Why Is Responding To Disruption So Difficult?

2 minute read

14 December 2017

By Dominic Pride

Founder and CEO, Upstart

Why do corporates, with their immense resources and talent, still struggle to create effective strategies when faced with disruption?

Corporations aren't evil, it’s just they way they’re made.

Incumbent players were founded on industrial thinking and economies of scale. The digital economy has different dynamics and drivers. They are lumbered with linear - rather than systems - thinking, making it difficult to for incumbents to come up with a strategic response.

Industrial thinking is focused on relatively symmetrical competition in commoditised markets, pitting equally-matched opponents in a battle for cars, mobile phone accounts or retail banking.

They’re using industrial approaches to solve post-industrial challenges. It’s like viewing the challenge as elephant fighting elephant, when the competition is elephant against microbes -which don't seem like an immediate threat but can be lethal nonetheless.

It’s hard to recognise the opposition when it doesn’t look like you.

We may also be facing a strategy shortage. This is a great graph from BCG. It tracks and categorises the number and type of strategic frameworks such as classical, adaptive and visionary.


As we move into the 21st century we can see a flattening out of strategic frameworks and stasis in the classical model.

“As the digital economy takes hold, it becomes more difficult to formulate and apply models.”

By the time they’ve been developed they’re pretty much out of date.

So where does that leave us?  We have a two-pronged existential challenge to the health industry and no reliable frameworks with which to respond.

How can we formulate and execute on strategy in such a bewildering environment?

Let’s be clear: Upstart is not here to recommend a strategy. In fact we want to disrupt the traditional consulting dynamic where experts come in as experts and tell clients what to do.

We’ll be honest. We have no idea what your strategy should be.

What we can do is bring an approach and a framework to find the answers and enable your teams to find it themselves. We’re not alone in this. We're founder members of Future Strategy Club,  a group where we’ve found kindred spirits who want to change how strategy is delivered.

So in our next post we will be sharing just three things that we think the future of strategy should look like.

This is this third of four posts adapted from a presentation at the D: Health event The Annual Strategic Forum In Health Technology we ask

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