When I launched O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) almost 11 years ago, I wondered: “When and how will I blow this thing up?” I had no intentions of destroying my fledgling business. Rather, I was determined to obviate the stultifying effects of familiarity, habit, routine, just-another-day-at-the-office mindsets, ineffectiveness, and complacency. Little did I know I was channeling a book I’d never read and don’t intend to read, which introduces the term, disruptive innovation.
I also seem to have foreshadowed the trend of jumping on 17-year-old bandwagons. This LinkedIn post suggests — if we take what used to be known as diversification, apply it to a broadening of the branches in our product and service trees, and call it disruption — we’ll create value for our customers and innovate. While the counsel in the article is intended to apply to advertising agencies, there’s enough bad advice in there for all of us, regardless of our entrepreneurial pursuits:
The only way a [sic] entrenched company can avoid being disrupted is to set up a small separate venture … that functions like a new company … [it] must not be held to the same income and profit expectations as the mother ship, but should be run like a start up … [it] cannot be a “division” of the established incumbent, operating under the corporate umbrella. It must have complete independence to implement its own structure and business model.
To paraphrase: When Ads ‘R’ Us is ready to offer web development, it should establish Web Works, a new brand in new offices; give it its own set of projections, revenue models, and books; and structure it differently from Ads ‘R’ Us. Ditto its other separate ventures: Social Media ‘R’ Us, Hyper Interactive, Dry Cleaner Graphic Design (“In by 9:00, out by 5:00”), and Boo-Boo’s Booths and Tradeshow Stuff. Now that’s disruptive.
When I thought about blowing up OCG, I had no idea I’d become part of the disruption trend. I focused on our consultative, strategic thinking; our creative output; our vigilance to detail; our responsiveness to clients and market opportunities; our determination to bring our A Game every day; streamlining our processes; keeping our output high and our overhead low; and maximizing our efficiency and productivity. I had no idea I’d have to create a new entity for every new product or service.
Now that I know, I’m heading for the munitions shed. It’s time to blow some shit up. I’m giving myself the new title, Le Grand Fromage, creating some new business ventures, and running every one like a start-up.
After I’ve packed on all that overhead and dead administrative weight, prospects will ask why our services are so expensive. I’ll reply jauntily, “Surely you jest. Our rates aren’t expensive. They’re disruptive. In fact, they’re so disruptive, I’m willing to bet that if you pay them, you’ll disrupt your business, too. Now THAT’s a win-win proposition.”
I hope I remember to wear my hard hat.
By Agência Brasil [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons