Any business can now be disrupted or a disruptor. This was the headline message from a HBR webinar I recently attended based on the article ‘Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation’.

Co-authors Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, presented a picture of a market devastated by innovations seeming to spring from out of nowhere, introducing game changing new product lines and destroying even the most established markets overnight.

The market adoption model has changed

Previously, a product would take some time to be widely adopted, with a small percent of ‘risky adopters’ paying a premium to be the first. Innovators could then use this time to take feedback, make changes and plan for how well the product was likely to perform in the market.

Customers are increasingly fickle

With the loss of early adopters however, there is no safe signal for how the market will respond. Mass adoption is universal, and you know within a very short space of time whether you have a flop or a massive success on your hands.

They are shaping products

Right from the beginning, customers now often start as trial users and employ sites like Kickstarter, having far more involvement in a product’s outcome. In such a way, experimentation is far cheaper and much easier to do.

Shed your assets before they become liabilities

Philips recognised early that incandescent lightbulbs were over, and made the well timed decision to move to LEDs. They took ownership and fore fronted the change in a dramatic way, taking a sustainability rational and harnessing a powerful political element for their campaign.

End Game Mastery 

Kodak and Fuji make an excellent case study for what Downes and Nunes call the ‘Entropy stage’. Unlike its competitor, Fuji got out of the film photography business before it was dictated to them, utilising existing patents and moving to innovate for B2B industries.