By: Geno Cutolo, CEO of Staffmark Group
When you think of the word disruption, what comes to mind? Perhaps you associate it with chaos, confusion, or disturbance. After all, disruption can certainly be upsetting. (COVID-19 comes to mind.)
Disruption, however, can also be synonymous with innovation, reinvention, and progress. In 1997, Harvard Business School Professor and author Clayton Christensen popularized the term “disruptive innovation” through his book The Innovator’s Dilemma. He defined it as, “a specific way that smaller companies can outcompete and eventually destroy their bigger rivals.”
While Christensen’s book was published over two decades ago, this term is now more relevant than ever, with start-ups revolutionizing their industries. Consider this:
- The largest taxi company owns no vehicles: Uber
- The largest accommodation provider owns no real estate: Airbnb
- The most popular media owner creates no content: Facebook
Before these companies were successful, they were likely told, “That will never work.” Change is usually a bad idea—until it’s not. Forbes research shows that 83 percent of executives who see their organizations as market disruptors report increased revenue, compared with 54 percent of those in non-disruptive or partially disruptive enterprises.
To thrive in business, you have a choice: either be disrupted or be the disruptor.
Disruptors are comfortable with being uncomfortable
W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne created the red ocean vs. blue ocean analogy. In their book Blue Ocean Strategy, they define the red ocean as the existing market space where companies fight to outperform their rivals, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody red.
The blue ocean, on the other hand, is the unknown market space. It is untainted by competition and is vast, deep, and powerful. This strategy requires courage. There is no guidebook, there are many unknowns, and success is not guaranteed. Even though failure is inevitable part of the process, the blue ocean is where companies find the greatest opportunity and growth.
At Staffmark Group, we encourage our teams to seek uncharted waters, and we accept that there will be mistakes and course corrections along the way. This keeps us on our toes and teaches us to adapt. It’s not always easy, but the results make the hard work and sacrifice worth it.
As Jim Rohn said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
Disruptors take swift action
Speaking of risk, one of the most difficult steps in the disruption process is taking the big leap. It is one thing to brainstorm, and it is another to take action. According to Brightline’s Closing the Gap: Designing and Delivering a Strategy That Works survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, more than 59 percent of senior executives admit their organizations “often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy development and its practical day-to-day implementation.”
Technologies improve, industries change, and customer demands evolve. Innovative companies have a pulse on the ever-evolving marketplace and what it’s telling them they must do. Companies that remain stagnant will not survive.
Consider the Blockbuster vs. Netflix saga. For years, Blockbuster dominated the home entertainment industry. When technology advancements came into play and Netflix entered the scene, Blockbuster froze and clung tight to its business model. They eventually tried to adapt, but it was too little, too late. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
There are a lot of companies that claim to know where their industry is going, but few will take action and make the right investments in people and technology to bring innovative ideas into reality. Yes, you need to strategize and plan. More importantly, you need to take action.
Staffmark Group not only seeks to be a disruptor in our own industry, we also are actively positioning our business to support clients that are disrupting their own industries. One way we are doing this is by providing technology that helps support our clients’ ever-changing workforce needs.
The Staffmark Group WorkNOW app is one example. This app not only allows workers to search and apply for jobs, they can also accept job offers, edit their availability, and receive ongoing alerts about new job opportunities that align with their skills and interests. Once talent are screened and verified, they become members of our gig economy and can be connected to opportunities instantly, all without searching for a job, scheduling an interview, or walking into one of our offices. The app allows us to meet people where they are at.
Disruptors invest in people and culture
Technology is driving innovation and growth in the marketplace, but it’s really the people behind the technology who are making it all happen. McKinsey research shows that 94 percent of senior executives believe people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation. The most successful organizations have created a collaborative work culture that is nimble and welcomes change. The phrase “business as usual” is out the window. Companies need to discover new ways to doing business and empower their teams to share their ideas and take risks.
Disruption requires people to be passionate explorers in pursuit of endless possibilities, and that’s the kind of people we have at Staffmark Group. We believe in the talent of our people, we trust our teams, and we know that we have that elusive combination of collaboration, grit, and resiliency that will ensure our company not only survives but thrives.
What does disruption mean to you? How has your organization actively pursued disruption?