Part of the benefit of teaching is what you learn from the students. Yesterday in class one of my students made what I thought was an interesting observation. More and more companies are disrupting themselves. He said that the ability to disrupt your own company was a competitive advantage. In other words, consistently disrupting your own company is a unique input or expertise that satisfies the conditions for a competitive advantage.
For those who forget how to define a competitive advantage, the definition is below.
- Valuable--has significant value to the customer
- Rare--not common
- Inimitable--not copiable
- Not Substitutable--there is no substitute
The expertise of disrupting oneself is similar to the expertise of designing airplanes for quick rebuilding. This airplane manufacturer can crash, rebuild and test again faster than their competitors. This expertise enables them to get to market faster. The self-disruptor is constantly identifying a smaller feature set that satisfies an unserved portion of the market. The ability to see the unserved need and match it with a feature set repeatedly becomes a competitive advantage.
The more I think about this idea the more I like it. Imagine that you are running a food company. It might be easier to identify new products looking for ways to disrupt existing products rather than the more traditional ways used in the food industry.