Disruption survival – using people, processes and technology to thrive


“Repent! The end is nigh! Disruption is coming!”

But until then, if you look the word disruption up in the Collins English Dictionary, you will find that it originates from the Latin word disruptus, meaning “burst asunder” and from dīrumpere or “to dash to pieces or split apart.” And yet, does it reflect a fatalistic view that it is the end of business as we know it?

If we look at history, disruption is not a new phenomenon. Repeating patterns of massive disruption have occurred regularly over the last 250 years at intervals of around 50 – 60 years.

In the 1790s, canal mania hit Britain with the introduction of a vast network of waterways, transforming the rural English economy. Bridges, roads and ports were built to support the booming trade. Yet, in 1840, rail and a vast network of lines sparked a major social transformational change, disrupting forever the economic viability of the canal network.

In more recent history, clusters of innovations – like steel, mass production techniques, computers and the internet – have created technological revolutions (disruptions), with astonishing new profit possibilities for those with eyes to see and money to invest.

What history does show us is that when a transformational technology appears, an explosion of energy occurs as the existing ways of operating are disrupted by those who have mastered the new technology. This energy can be seen in terms of financial and process-driven innovation, that improve a product or service in ways the market does not expect – typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

If businesses are able to engage this energy and refocus it on genuinely better ways of organizing and managing, with responsive business processes put in place to drive their own approaches, disruption can be used as a catalyst for success. Here’s how.

Three focus points for disruption survival
In our interconnected world – where countries, economies and companies are more interdependent than ever before – risks that once seemed improbable and even remote have become the norm. To navigate through this environment, companies need to develop resilience by combining an ability to ride out the immediate impact of shocks with a long-term capacity to adapt to constantly changing conditions.

The following three focus points, in my opinion, are critical:

1. People
Evolve teams with the right skill sets and establish a culture of empowerment to embrace disruptive change and use it as a springboard for success.

2. Process
Review your business process responsiveness and efficiency. Focus on shared corporate intelligence, introduce smart approval pathways and information flows to maintain – or increase, if need be – communications, compliance and governance.

3. Technology
Enable people and processes to work seamlessly as a single core, establishing an infrastructure that removes wasted time, maximizes resources and effort and allows your people to work as effectively as they should.

People always tend to think that a tough economic situation is the sign of a “new normal” and, conversely, that a robust world economy will last forever. But as history has shown, economic conditions always alternate and technological revolutions (disruptions) are more common than you think. However, if you focus on these three points, not only will your organization adapt, but it will thrive.

Anyone interested in my canal shares?

Working from Hyland's London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the Lloyds Banking Group to BUPA. Over this period, he has seen many changes in system and solution approaches, some successful and some that should not have seen the light of day. As someone who can remember when legacy systems were mere young kids on the block, you can guarantee he will have a point of view.

Colin Dean

Working from Hyland’s London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the... read more about: Colin Dean