We are living in an era of enormous disruption. And, it’s happening in almost every aspect of our lives: politically, economically, socially, culturally—and across all industries. Just as the industrial revolution disrupted the world, so too is what some experts call the “information revolution.” The disruptive driver of this revolution is technology, powered by the Internet and unprecedented globalization, compounded by an equally enormous entrepreneurial zeal to use this driver for further disruption and innovation.
Of great importance for all of us is that we be alert to those areas of our lives that are being, or about to be, disrupted. Are we, or will we be a disruptor or a “disruptee,” so to speak? And, since disruption typically results in either destruction or uncomfortable change, both can be painful. Therefore, it behooves those who are alert to get ahead of the curve and understand why, how, and what will be disrupted, so they can proactively take control and manage, in their favor, whatever disruptive changes must inevitably happen. Essentially, by embracing change, they become positive “disruptors,” disrupting, destroying, or changing old ways and creating new ones.
President Obama was to be a “disruptor” in his first term, but instead, became a “disruptee” due to a combination of his own leadership flaws, strategic and tactical failings and choice of priorities, augmented by fierce antagonists on the other side of the “aisle.” Re-elected, he’s still faced by the disruptions that occurred before his watch, added to during his first term and, if left unchanged during his final term, could turn severe disruptions into permanent destruction. We’re all hoping the President can re-craft his leadership skills to meet the different and larger needs for them today. And, he must find the inter-personal skills (à la “Big Dawgs” schmooze machine), which he sorely lacked in his first term. Then the better minds on both aisles can join together to disrupt our growing mess on so many fronts, and create a new growth-positive America.
Closer to home, our lead article describes how John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, is converting eBay from being a “disruptee” into a disruptor. He is proactively making major strategic and structural changes to the model, positioning it for rapid growth by taking the lead in the mobile space and laying the foundation for a global marketplace, which will earn a spot in Amazon’s SWOT analysis under “threats.”
And, by the way, even if one sees the disruption coming, proactively “taking the bull by the horns,” to control, manage, and develop positive transformation is a major long-term strategic project. It’s already taken Monahan roughly five years to move eBay onto a more powerful launching pad.
Another disruptor, Ron Johnson, CEO of JC Penney, has been leading transformation for less than a year. Granted, the arterial hemorrhaging of traffic, sales and earnings has been horrific, but in my opinion, to have been expected given the magnitude of disruption required to reinvent the business model.
We have many other great articles in this issue, all intended to disrupt your thinking (I promise, its’s all with good intentions).
David Merrefield poses a wake-up call to SuperValu, the once giant grocery brand, that has disrupted itself into near ruin. And more cautionary tales: Warren Shouldberg tells a modern-day tale of Toy Story with the saga of Toys “R” Us. Judith Russell brings clarity to the showrooming phenomonen; Paco Underhill provides a provocative perspective on innovation with a disruptive parable; and Toni Yacobian calls a warning shot on the need for innovation in growth strategy. Jill Butler muses about the great disrupter: women. And on an upbeat note, Emily Thompson gives us a snapshot of the holiday shopping season; Grace Ehlers adds three new retailers to bellwether brands to watch; and Andrew Mantis provides fresh insight on how holiday returns can actually be a business builder.
Have a great read, and may your disruptions always ensure you live long and prosper! Oh, and of course, have a warm and wonderful holiday season. We all deserve it—for our families, friends and our future.