April 13, 2009

We live in an age of disruption. In no time, trends change, technologies become obsolete, and an entire industry get buried. Disruption breeds chaos and confusion. To survive and prosper in these disruptive times, adaptability, agility, speed, and decisiveness are the key requirement.

Often, disruptive times are most conducive to the phenomenal growth of micro-organisms (read nimble footed start-ups) but at the same time they spell disaster for giants (read huge multi-layered organizations.) The reason is not hard to fathom. While start-ups and smaller organizations quickly respond and proactively charge at the opportunities thrown by disruption, larger organizations consider themselves too big to feel threatened by the changed environment. By the time larger organizations understand the gravity of disruption and the impact it could have on their well-being and sustainability, it is generally too late to respond.

While smaller organizations quickly redraw their strategy, larger organizations get trapped in their size and ego.

Three factors that hinder the manoeuvrability of large organizations during disruptive times are -
  1. A false sense of invincibility.
  2. Unwillingness to adapt.
  3. Delayed and slow reaction.
Since disruptive times are here to stay, large organizations need to adapt themselves to changing times to not only survive but also prosper by tapping opportunities thrown by disruption. A good starting point would be to transform themselves into synchronized units of nimble footed micro-organisms within a larger ecosystem.