One thing we know about disruption is that it is definitively unpredictable. Perhaps the most unprecedented disruption businesses have faced in recent years has been that of environmental sustainability. As awareness of climate change and its dangers has grown exponentially in the last few years, with student protests filling cities and legislation being passed in many countries, businesses are having to respond to the overwhelming consumer demand for environmental sustainability in products.
If you ask any high school teacher what the biggest killer of class productivity is in a class of students after lunch they will tell you, in more or less the same words, it is inertia – the tired drag of disinterested students who will not act unless acted upon by an external force, often in the form of a frustrated teacher. The same goes for large and mature organizations. In business, just as it is in nature, size is almost always inversely related to agility, and inertia is the biggest killer of progress and productivity.
Nothing turns a customer off more than friction. In fact, nothing turns an employee off more than friction either. If businesses are to remain Indisruptible in the years to come, identifying friction is paramount, so here are 3 key questions to help you find it.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Six hours’ train ride south of Stockholm in the Swedish town of Helsingborg, you will find one of the more interesting museums you’re ever likely to come across. What is most remarkable about this museum is what it celebrates. Inside you will find no exhibits commemorating triumphs of human ingenuity of creativity – rather, you will encounter exhibit after exhibit celebrating, of all things, failure. That’s right, an entire museum dedicated to many of the greatest stuff ups, misfires and train wrecks of human history.
Imagine a world where you enter a retail store and are instantly identified by your mobile phone. Your preferences, credit card details and buying history are immediately recognized along with your identity and from that moment on, the entire in-store experience is customized to your needs and desires. You select products either by scanning a code on your smartphone or by placing items in a physical shopping cart the old-school way. When you are finished shopping, your shopping tally is calculated as you walk past sensors near the exit and the amount owing is immediately charged to your default credit card.
Sound fanciful or futuristic? Well this is almost precisely the automated retail experience shoppers are already enjoying in Amazon’s recently opened bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
If you rose through the grades of the schooling system in the last forty years or so, it is almost certain that at some point you were encouraged toward university. With its lures of prestige and its promises of the expansion of the mind, and a cap, gown and certificate waiting at the end, it has kept young people captivated by the hope of their own future.
Inversely, vocational training, apprenticeships and industry work have been negatively affected by people’s prejudices against them. Presenting as paths of education with fewer prospects, less prestige and less purpose, numbers within them have dropped dramatically compared to tertiary education, and society is feeling the burden of this imbalance.
‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’
This old proverb has been renowned and repeated through the decades, declaring that it is impossible to retrain someone or something that is aged and set in its ways. In our current age of disruption in the world of business, this is a toxic way of thinking that destroys the companies which live by it.