Creative ways to gain a competitive advantage

Successful companies operating in mature industries tend to embrace incremental change because they are reluctant to create new product lines that will compete with their old product lines, according to Luke Williams in his book Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. However, to remain successful they must consistently make bold moves, using disruptive innovation to stay ahead of the pack.

The book provides a complete five-stage process for disruptive change, allocating a chapter to each:

  1. Craft a disruptive hypothesis
  2. Define a disruptive market opportunity
  3. Generate several disruptive ideas
  4. Shape them into a single disruptive solution
  5. Make a disruptive pitch that will persuade internal or external stakeholders to adopt what you have created

There are numerous books which advise readers to apply “design thinking” to their business. Invariably, such books refer to Apple products, but the typical business leader simply does not have – and probably does not want – what it takes to emulate Steve Jobs. This book is more helpful than others because it shows the reader in practical step-by-step ways how to create and gain acceptance of a disruptive business idea.

For example, the step of crafting a disruptive hypothesis is broken down into asking what you want to disrupt, identifying the clichés or common assumptions that govern the way people do business in the relevant industry, and proposing disruptive hypotheses. The last sub-step is broken down again by asking what you can invert, what you can deny, and what you can scale.

The book is entertaining to read, with numerous interesting anecdotes and with the process being illustrated at each stage by reference to the real-life example of the Little Miss Matched sock business. I highly recommend the book to business leaders who are looking for creative ways of gaining a competitive advantage.

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