No business has ever grown without causing disruption. We see monumental life changing disruptions: like Ford destroying the horse drawn carriage sector and changing the way the world travels and Google disrupting every sector by changing the way we find information.
Smaller scale disruptions have occurred in other sectors such as Terrance Conran disrupting the way the British covered their beds by bringing duvets from Sweden in the 1960s and Starbucks disrupting how the world drinks coffee.
Once the pace of disruption has begun to slow, organisations are in a dangerous place, waiting for a competitor to deliver a more unique product or service.
At this point businesses have two possible paths they can follow; to continue to plough on with their original product proposition and maintain business-as-usual or to start the disruption process once again.
The business-as-usual route is much easier, more comfortable and less likely to fail. However, the only way to achieve growth is to forget business-as-usual.
In 1824, John Cadbury opened a grocer’s shop in Birmingham. Among other things, he sold cocoa and drinking chocolate which he prepared himself using a pestle and mortar.
Less than 10 years later he moved away from his business-as-usual retail space and bought a warehouse where he began to produce drinking chocolate on an industrial scale.
As the business progressed, Cadbury moved from drinking chocolate to bars of chocolate to Easter eggs, each innovation another disruption delivering growth to the business.
Cadbury’s shows us that all businesses, however old, begin as start-ups. They are a great place to understand how to avoid business-as-usual.
A start-up simply doesn’t have to deal with the legacy of the usual - there is no angst at moving a promotion because of the way it may effect like for like sales.
When organisations grow and scale up, business-as-usual becomes the core of their business and employees feel that they can’t challenge the status quo.
It takes an effort at leadership level to encourage their people to interrogate what 'business-as-usual' is and have vision and a direction of travel to change plans as the environment dictates.
Gut instinct and a willingness to take risks are critical to foster a culture of growth. Andrew Reeve, Honest Brew - "if you’re 70% confident in something just do it".
Businesses have to constantly search for opportunities and be on the front foot before the next seismic change happens. Telefonica saw huge losses to both their SMS and roaming products as the telecoms sector was disrupted by Whatsapp and Skype.
Would it have been possible for Telefonica to predict these changes? Probably not, but to avoid this happening again, they have created their own start up accelerator, Wayra.
This arm of the business seeks to invest in businesses or ideas that want to use technology to solve the problems of the future and in doing so Telefonica is endeavouring to create and benefit from the next Whatsapp or Skype.
To avoid falling into a business-as-usual trap companies must hire and instil a sense of restlessness into their people to ensure that the whole organisation understands that growth only comes through change.
Breaking from business-as-usual means being able to generate genuinely new ideas, products or business models, many companies are good at incremental change, making small justifiable changes, but it's harder to make big changes and being able to do both is the key.
Source: Ellie Roberts - Minute Hack