The Pandemic Will Open the Door to Dangerous New Competitors

In the 2012 HBR article, Surviving Disruption, Clayton Christensen and Maxwell Wessel focused on how technologies and other companies can disrupt your business model.  They highlighted a framework for determining whether a disruption on the horizon is likely to displace your current business model & provided ways to possibly respond. 

While these notions are still highly relevant, COVID-19 has accelerated many trends.  Trends that allowed the entrance of new disruptive competitors and forces in all industries.

Changing customer needs will combine with the weakening of some traditional players to open the door even wider to new solutions. We saw it happening before the pandemic.

For example, who would have predicted that one of the airlines’ biggest competitors might be Zoom!

What Types of Chiefs Are Most Important To Running A Company? 

Who should be responsible for watching these changing horizons and guiding your company to pivot in times like these? 

More importantly, who and how can you get the organization to have the confidence to develop disruption …so you can create or leverage new opportunities to best serve your customers?

Companies have a “Chief Officer” for any of the important functions such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Risk Officer (SRO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), etc. So, why wouldn’t they have a Chief Disruption Management Officer (CDMO)? 

Suggesting this as a C-level role might be going a little overboard or being “tongue in cheek.”  Nonetheless, somebody needs to be watching, reporting back and suggesting strategies as a company discipline. 

The Benefits of a CDMO

During times of extreme crisis like we have been experiencing, the “CDMO” would have already had several contingency plans in place for how the organization should respond both internally and externally.  Of course, they wouldn’t have built these plans on their own, they would have coordinated with teams responsible for strategy, risk, finance, supply chain, etc. They would be constantly watching the horizon for any signal that they needed to refine and deploy a “Plan B…or Plan C”.  

The CDMO would also act as a periscope on the horizon.  Watching for opportunities for the company to gain a competitive advantage such as making recommendations for investing in new technology or partnering with a new company.  Or even more dramatically, recommending a new business model. 

As an example, many products in the medical industry require an in-person diagnosis.  A CDMO would be leading their company to investigate smart technologies that enabled patient assessments via telemedicine channels.  

Content upgrade -Disruptive War Games

What Type Of Person Is Best To Be The CDMO?

You probably have someone in the organization that is typically forecasting the sky falling.  You may also have someone that is the eternal optimist, the glass is half full.  It would be ideal to put these two together into one person.  In addition, they would need to be highly respected in the organization so that their recommendations were taken seriously.

Unfortunately, this may be a bit of a unicorn.  So you may need to settle for a Co-CDMO.

Shouldn’t disruption management be the responsibility of one of the other functions? Perhaps the closest might be the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) or team responsible for strategy. But this function is typically more focused on an annual cycle or a key project – not an on-going “watch”. 

If your organization isn’t ready to fully commit to a CDMO, or CoCDMO, it would be wise to ensure that someone – the right type of someone – is charged with the critical activity of Disruption Management.  Getting this right will help companies survive – and maybe even thrive – amongst what we hope was the biggest business disruption in our lifetimes.

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