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Ignore disruptive technology at your own risk

June 12, 2013

By Lisa Parker

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who can not change their minds can not change anything.”- George Bernard Shaw

When I began working in the field of innovation in the mid-1990s, my colleagues and I would help companies plan for the future by looking twenty years out. We studied long-term trends. It was a deliberate process that resulted in great long-term strategies. Then, the Internet and mobile technology arrived and all long-term bets were off!

Back then, change felt more like a large ocean liner turning slowly so no one was tossed off their feet. Today, change is more like a small speedboat in turbulent seas. No one stands on their feet for long in turbulent seas!

But George Bernard Shaw is right. Progress is impossible without change. And to be successful, we must be open to all the possibilities that will impact our businesses and our lives, no matter how turbulent the water may be. Recently, McKinsey & Company published a report entitled “Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” that identifies 12 technologies that could change the world as we know it, and offers guidelines to help business leaders respond.

The disruptive technologies listed in the report are:

  • Mobile Internet
  • Automation of knowledge work
  • Internet of things
  • Cloud technology
  • Advanced robotics
  • Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles
  • Next-generation genomics
  • Energy storage
  • 3D printing
  • Advanced materials
  • Advanced oil and gas exploration and discovery
  • Renewable energy

This list shows that Linkage partner Clayton Christensen’s notion of disruptive innovation has never been more true than it is today. Use this list to start building your own “drivers of change map” by asking yourself and your colleagues: “How might these technology trends impact our industry and subsequently, how vulnerable are we to some type of disruptive technological threat?”

This list also shows that if you aren’t constantly on the lookout for new disruptive technologies, you and your organization could be left behind your competition.

So be honest. When it comes to innovation, is your company lumbering along like a large ocean liner or able to turn on a dime like a high-performance speedboat?

Linkage has helped many organizations “out-innovate” the competition by partnering with Clayton Christensen, Stephen ShapiroIDEO, and ExperiencePoint.  If your organization is lumbering along, we can help you, too. Click here to learn more.

More about Lisa

Lisa Parker has extensive experience in leadership strategy, team building, organization development and assessments, and innovation process management. Her specialties are building innovation-capable organizations, team dynamics and communication, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, design thinking and change, transition management, and the creative process. Follow her on Twitter @Stratovationist.


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