How many times have you heard of a new technology, business, or idea that is going to “disrupt” an entire industry? Whether it’s a new phone or business model, nearly every major breakthrough businesses make will, at some point, be perceived as disruptive to other businesses in their industry.
But are these breakthroughs really disrupting anyone? I certainly don’t think so. In fact, I’ve been saying for years that “disruptive” isn’t the right word to use in these situations.
When businesses create new products or services, they’re not disrupting anyone. They’re transforming themselves and their industry. They’re adding value to their own business and businesses in their industry.
This distinction between disruption and transformation is incredibly important. So let’s talk for a moment about why this is such an important concept for business owners and how to leverage transformation in your business instead of getting bogged down with disruptions.
What even is a disruption?
The word “disruption” clearly has a negative connotation, and I first started to notice it being used with business breakthroughs in the 1980s and ‘90s. There were two major innovations that resulted in massive transformations, yet everyone was talking about how disruptive they were.
These two instances were the invention of the microchip, and later, the internet.
At the time, people were pointing out how this new, amazing technology was going to “destroy” all other technologies. It was going to hurt businesses. There was a destructiveness to it, a sense that this new technology would totally undermine and disrupt businesses across all industries.
But in my mind, I was thinking about all the possibilities. We were on the forefront of one of the largest transformations in the history of our society. Once businesses learned how to utilize this technology, they would be able to accomplish so much more.
I started to think that instead of talking about disruption, we should be talking about transformation.
Disruptions actually negate a lot of the things we’re striving for as business owners. They make our futures needlessly difficult by setting up roadblocks. They create headwinds and opposition. Transformations, on the other hand, make everything better! They make things easier, faster, cheaper, and bigger.
I kept thinking about how all of these companies could learn how to use this technology to transform their businesses. It had the potential to increase the value of everything they were doing—and looking back, it did.
I also found that when I talked about this concept of transformation, people were able to relax. It made them feel better. Disruption implies that something is going to be destroyed, while transformation implies that something is going to be improved and reborn.
It takes a lot of energy to do destructive things, while transformations give you energy.
How to leverage transformation in your business.
Always remember that any time you change something, there will be discomfort for some people. That’s just the way it goes. But here’s how I like to think of it as a business owner…
You’re not responsible for other people’s responses. But you shouldn’t go out of your way to make things painful.
Learning how to leverage transformation in your business ultimately comes down to changing your perception. You should never avoid or resist a transformation because of how it might affect other businesses or industries. But at the same time, you shouldn’t go out of your way to hurt other businesses either. We all stand to benefit from these transformations—this is not a zero-sum game.
So whether your business is causing the transformation or it’s being caused by someone else in your industry, you need to keep yourself open to all the opportunities that may arise from it—even if it seems negative at first. You can leverage transformations to not only make everything in your business and life better, but make everything in everyone’s business and life better.
Always be open to constant transformation in your business because you never know when it will occur. Accept transformation. Don’t resist it. There’s no point in investing your psychological and emotional energy into resisting it.
To put this into action, here are a few questions to ask yourself the next time you encounter a disruption in your business or industry:
- How can I make this a transformation, not a disruption?
- How can I be creative in the face of this new transformation?
- What’s the next thing that needs to happen in my business?
- What’s the next thing that I want to make happen in my business?
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Using COVID for business transformation.
Just months ago, we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is something that will forever be remembered as one of the most disruptive moments in our history, as it has affected nearly every facet of daily life across the globe.
It’s been a tough time for many business owners, but the ones who have made it through all share one thing in common: instead of looking at this with a negative mindset, they’ve seen the potential for transformation. They’ve learned how to adapt their business to this new normal we find ourselves in, and view this time as the transformation that it truly is.
At Strategic Coach, we could have complained about how disruptive this has been to our business. We could have resisted the transformation by focusing only on continuing our in-person workshops. But that would have been a waste of our time.
Instead, we recognized the transformation that was happening in our business and industry, and we completely changed the focus of the entire business within two days.
Everyone left the office and started working remotely. We stopped planning for our upcoming live events and started brainstorming ways that we could help our clients’ businesses and add value in these difficult times. We added new revenue streams and created new products and services that would transform our clients’ lives and businesses.
Looking back, this experience was a true transformation for us and our clients. But only because we approached it with the right mindset.
Show up strong and be remembered.
I’d like to leave you with a simple thought.
These types of situations are bound to happen in any business, and it’s important to remember that how you react to them is observed and remembered by other people. When there is a transformation happening, everyone takes notice. Everyone’s looking for the people that will come out stronger on the other side.
Do you want to be remembered for resisting a disruption? Or do you want to be remembered for showing up strong and creating a transformation?
I know I never want to be thought of badly after an experience like this. How about you?