Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Leaders, Be Disruptive

Volume: August 2014

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Are you disruptive? No, no, I am not asking if you are a trouble-maker or have a disruptive personality. What I am asking is if your organization has disrupted or is in the midst of disrupting the marketplace in which you operate. Market disruption is usually accomplished via innovation. In fact, disruptive innovation is a force that creates a new market or so drastically disrupts an existing market that it overhauls the industry or replaces an earlier technology. Like the i-Phone and how it revolutionized the cell phone industry or Craigslist and how it obliterated Classified Ads. Perhaps you are thinking that your organization simply enjoys operating in your particular industry. In fact, competition is so fierce that there is little time to reinvent your business, let alone an entire industry. On the surface this thinking is pragmatic. However, if you are not engaging in some serious strategic planning at least every two years, I guarantee that there are certain segments of your business (operations, market opportunity, technology, efficiencies, etc.) that could be improved – and disrupted in the process. When Steve Jobs and Apple moved to disrupt the cell phone industry, they focused on three areas (just three): Design, functionality, and consumer experience. All three of the areas were under-serving the consumer. First of all, the customer had become complacent about the design of their phone. There was no sizzle in the design of a cell phone and the consumer no longer cared. Secondly, the functionality of cell phones was ho-hum. There were no energizing bells and whistles. Lastly, the consumer experience bland and frustrating as opposed to awe-inspiring. By recognizing three simple areas in which to improve, the Apple/Jobs continuum created a game-changing product. Simultaneously, Apple’s achievement sent an industry into a frenzy as competitors struggled to reshape their thinking, reengineer their offerings, and keep pace with a new market leader.     


There is much to learn from the history of market disruption. If you are a savvy leader, you may want to ask yourself four questions, as well as ponder four corresponding opportunities:

  1. What areas of my organization are, at best, average?

Opportunity: Examine the policies and procedures or your organization. Knock down walls that are holding back the creativity of your team members. Seek to heighten the level of team member engagement that exists in your organization.


  1. What portions of my industry lack sizzle and appeal?

Opportunity: Look for strategic areas within your marketplace in which to reinvent or innovate. As you drive innovation, make certain that you are quick to market.


  1. When consumers purchase my products and services are they delighted by what they experience?

Opportunity: Elevate the level of customer experience that your organization provides to the consumer. Compare your organization against some of the best customer experience providers in the world. How do you stack up? What is the difference?


  1. Does my organization’s mission statement, vision statement, and core values properly align with our value proposition and reason for existing?

Opportunity: Engage your team in some offsite strategic planning and revisit your organization’s guiding principles. Reinforce your beliefs while simultaneously opening the door to new, potentially game-changing ideas. 


Bottom Line: Leaders, be disruptive. Reinvent your organization on a regular basis. Examine your mission, vision, and values and make certain they align with your noble purpose. In the process you will lead innovations that will improve your product, enhance the customer experience, and alter the marketplace in your favor. Do not be shy. Rather, be bold. Think boldly, create fearlessly, and above all, act!


Until next time, be well.



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