Backstory: Becoming a disruptor in your industry

Monday October 17, 2016
Written by Shawn Casemore, Casemore and Co Inc.
Oct. 17, 2016 - If I asked you to describe the current environment in your market, what would it look like? This is a question I ask a lot of the CEOs and executives I meet and hands-down there is one word that comes up more than any other. Disruption.

Virtually every industry and sector I’ve come in contact with seems to have been experiencing disruption in some way, shape or form. If you are driving a taxi, then Uber likely comes to mind; if you are a distributor then Amazon is likely a name that makes you shudder. Even the automotive industry has recently been shaken by Tesla’s unprecedented pre-order sales of its Model 3, which will take two years to build.

The question we must answer then is not how to avoid disruption, but how can we become the disruptor in our industry? The good news is, disruption is not driven by technology, although technology is a vehicle upon which disruption can exist. No, being a disruptor begins with your people... have I got your attention?

Think about it for a moment. It’s your employees that are the drivers of innovation, and in turn the instigators of disruption in your business. In fact, the good news is that in my experience, you most likely have dozens of employees (possibly hundreds) who can help you become a disruptor.

Here is a test for you to consider. This week, take a few minutes and spend some time on the front lines of your business, asking your employees the following questions:

1. What do you think we should do/introduce that would set us apart from our competition?
2. What changes should we institute to improve our productivity?
3. How can we better serve our customers, while reducing our costs and increasing efficiency?

It is simple questions like these that will yield responses and spawn creativity in your organization and creativity leads to innovation, which if successful, results in disruption.

So if you’re tired of waiting for or accepting disruption in your business, spend less time seeking out “the next big thing,” relative to technology. Instead, begin interacting with your employees to learn about the creative ideas they have to resolve and overcome your greatest challenges. At worst, you’ll increase the level of engagement in your organization, but at best, you’ll identify the next big idea that will allow you to become a disruptor.

Shawn Casemore is the president and founder of Casemore and Co Inc., a management consultancy helping business owners and executives improve the performance and profitability of their business through their people.

This article was originally published in the September 2016 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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