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8 steps to successful disruption of your industry

Disruption is one of the buzzwords you hear often in today’s business world. Nothing shakes an industry awake like disruptive innovation. Companies become obsolete, others complain about their disappearing market share, while the smart ones recognize the signs of disruption early and embrace the change. In this new paradigm, businesses must either go out and disrupt or prepare to be disrupted themselves.

It is easy to think disrupting an industry simply means coming up with a new product or service in order to replace an old one. But creating products or services that are somehow better and cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean they are disruptive.
Disrupting an industry requires deep changes in the way the industry operates and always requires other companies to respond to this new way of doing business. It also requires significant changes within your organization...changes that may not be well-received by some.

If you work in or lead a company that is trying to disrupt an industry, there are a few things you can do to make the endeavor a success and yourself a rising star. Here are some suggestions to consider:

1. Reinvent the Company Culture

Successful disruption does not happen in a culture that does not foster and celebrate innovation. People generally dislike change, so whether it's your employees or investors, make sure these individuals are on board with your plan to implement radical change.

Put a few initiatives in place to make sure you are empowering your people and nurturing a culture of innovation. Encourage networking, transparency, the sharing of ideas and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to take strategic risks. Providing a safe environment for employees to test, learn and revise is crucial to originality and improvement.

2. Understand your customer

One of the most essential steps to take is all about understanding your customers better. You need to define your audience clearly, but you also need to understand what they want.

Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips. Identify the customer pain points in your industry, find out where they occur in the user journey and use digital pathways to eliminate them.

Find ways to simplify, streamline and enrich the customer experience and you are likely to cement customer loyalty. It could be as straightforward as rethinking the way you communicate with your customers for follow-ups and servicing.

3. Embrace the idea of disruption

When you've been entrenched in your work for a while it's important to push aside your knowledge, biases and preconceived notions of how things are or should be and try to look at your industry with a fresh perspective.

It's time to relinquish the long-held belief that the most important factor when making major changes, is the business behind you. When you explore new opportunities it's wise to take into account the prospects for enhancement or reinvention that may already exist and areas of your business that you could improve.

4. Capitalize on new technologies

Nothing invigorates a disruption like a fresh approach. Think about Uber and Amazon. These companies embraced technology and changed the dynamics of ridesharing and shopping.

5. Reduce complexity

Reducing complexity is not an easy task. Sometimes the ideas that look simple on paper don’t necessarily reduce customer pain points. It is a difficult way to disrupt the industry, while at the same time the most likely path for tremendous gains.

The more complex your industry is, the more opportunities you have to disrupt it with a clever product. By simplifying a product, you can gain immediate market advantage.

6. Get rid of the middlemen

Cutting out the middleman in a supply chain essentially cuts out entire jobs - even entire industries. Today, there are apps that have done just that. They connect renters to apartments without the need for real estate agents. Mortgages can be secured without ever visiting a bank or mortgage broker. You can order razors without ever visiting a brick and mortar store. Consumers are willing to pay for a quality experience dealing directly with manufacturers and service providers. Sometimes the simplest solution is the most disruptive.

7. Think like an outsider

Some of the best ideas come from people who know nothing about your industry. They are not limited by the things that hold us back from thinking out-of-the-box. Ask for input from someone with little knowledge of the industry. Their perspective may be invaluable in coming up with new ideas.

8. Use this simple approach

To build a business model that can disrupt an industry, consider this simple approach:

  1. Identify the biggest customer pain points
  2. Identify the biggest industry problems
  3. Find disruptive solutions
  4. Combine them into a business model competitors will find too costly to implement.

There are further ideas on how to disrupt an industry. But all of the ideas share very similar patterns and strategies. Although disrupting an industry is by no means a simple task, the rewards can be magnificent. If you have the vision to look at your industry in a new light and find the ways to improve or change it, you will provide better service to your customers and grow your business.