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Digital Disruption/ General Management

Disrupt Yourself

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by Jeff Pundyk
Vice President, Content Marketing and Strategy
The Economist Group

See More by this author >

Article Highlights:

  • Those of us who make big, bold predictions aren’t really guessing at the future.
  • Be the challenger you are worrying about.
  • Cannibalize your own business before somebody else does it.

It’s prediction season. As the year rolls (lurches?) to a close, I’ve spent a little time making predictions, a fair amount of time reading other people’s predictions, and quite a bit of time thinking about the predictions business.

And while it’s always fun and sometimes interesting to take your best guess about next year, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best predictions aren’t really predictions at all. They are wishes. They are hopes. They are exhortations.

Those of us who make big, bold predictions aren’t really guessing at the future. We are not saying what will be; we are saying what should  be. And in doing so, we are committing ourselves to that future and the struggles we know await us in getting there.

When we make predictions, we are hoping beyond hope that somebody else will join the cause. These predictions should be read as invitations, calls to action.

So here’s a big, bold prediction for next year: All across the corporate world, companies won’t wait for upstart challengers, evolving technology, and empowered customers to upend them. They’ll do it to themselves.

My prediction, my call to action, is for you to disrupt yourself.

Steal your own customer, eat into your own market share, use the tools of your challenger and the considerable strengths of your brand, your loyal customers, and your experience to challenge yourself. Be the challenger you are worrying about.

Cannibalize your own business before somebody else does it. If it means investing something in a skunk works operation, do it. If it means going to market before the product is fully baked, do it. If it means collaborating with some unusual partners, competing with your strongest colleagues, relying more on intuition and less on research, do it. If it means hiring somebody from outside of your industry, do it. If it means, moving some colleagues out of the corporate HQ, do it. If it means bringing in young people, people of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, people who see things completely and totally differently from you, do it. If it means giving the go-ahead to somebody or something unexpected, do it. You’ll learn something new about risk and reward, about your own company’s strengths and vulnerabilities, and about how to operate with agility and creativity.

That is my prediction, my invitation, my commitment.

About Jeff Pundyk

Jeff Pundyk is vice president, content marketing and strategy, at The Economist Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jpundyk.

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