Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe, interviews Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia.
Mr. Elop has some great thoughts about innovation and about managing through disruption. It’s interesting because both of them worked at Macromedia before it was bought by Adobe. If you remember well, Macromedia used to make authoring tools for CD-Rom’s back in the day before the internet existed.
They saw that the internet was a potentially disruptive force that would undermine their business and so they had to make decisions on where to focus and place their bets. Their bet was Flash and they put all of the resources behind it. Flash went on to become the leading platform for creating dynamic content on the web.…
Disruptive companies create innovations that invade the market, force change, and create new sectors of the industry. And for companies like Google, Apple, Netflix, Skype, Tata and Pandora, disruption is their game.
And what do the most disruptive companies in technology have in common? They challenged the conventional market and created a new one. …
You need to new ideas. Different ones. That has to be clear. You need to think disruptively by thinking about what’s changing in the world and how those changes, in aggregate, can make your business disappear. You also have to look for entrants whose business model could potentially disrupt yours. You also have to look at how your customers tastes and needs have and may change. You also need to think about how you can/could disrupt yourself. …
Those are the words a client of mine told one of his Lieutenants last week. His company is in crisis mode. Hard times are coming and in an effort to not lay off people, he’s giving them part-time.
He told me this last week in our meeting .
I was there to give a presentation about social media and how his industry might change because of it, and it ended up igniting this ‘we’re changing direction’ conversation afterwards!
I do have to say that when he said ‘let’s think about what we’re never thought about’, deep down, I felt really happy to hear that from someone other than myself. I think my client might have caught my micro-expression of the Grinch while he said those words:
Yes! Not in an evil sense, but in a ‘permission to shake things up’ way!
But, it’s a shame you have to hear a CEO say ‘Let’s think about what we’ve never thought about because we might not make it to the end of the year’ until a crisis hits an organization.
Part of our conversation also unearthed how this behavior had plagued his company for years. How they had been reacting to competitors moves during a span of 8 years and how this mindless behavior had cost them hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars! It’s cheap change compared to corporations but in any world that’s a lot of money!
Reflecting on the crisis at hand and seeing the same patterns from the past, my client essentially said:
We have to go on another direction. We have to make our own path.
Sometimes innovation starts with a critical decision to reinvent yourself and your business. A moment of truth.
When we talk about taking the time to reflect and ponder about the future, this is exactly what we mean one has to do. No just sit there and daydream, but to think about alternate realities. Realities where what you are doing today is completely different tomorrow. To go find the revolution before it finds you.