• Phil Roos

Transcending Disruption

“Disruption is going to happen to us all, and we should plan on it sooner rather than later.”

Those words appeared in a blog post I wrote back in January, where I discussed disruption as well as how organizations can continue innovating and growing in a tumultuous age.

Disruption is certainly the word of the moment – and perhaps the word that will characterize consumer-focused markets for the foreseeable future. If you, or your organization, in one way or another - big or small, haven’t felt disrupted in 2017 then we’ll just consider you a unicorn, a true anomaly in these crazy times (and, by the way, I’d love to meet you!). The reality today is that most individuals we engage with, especially our established company clients, believe disruption is occurring much more frequently and powerfully than ever before. Whether this disruption is tied to an ever-changing political environment or any one of the 5 dynamics we continuously study, each and every one of our clients is feeling the effects of a rapidly changing landscape, one that has caused many of us as individuals and members of organizations to deeply question:

  1. How are we going to survive and thrive?

  2. What do we truly care about and stand for?

  3. What do we aim to deliver to our customers, and the world in general?

My January post marked a shift in the focus of our firm, GrowthWorks, toward helping companies grow and prosper by transcending disruption in the ways most aligned to their core brand and vision. Let me explain a little more about what we mean…

OUR (GROWTHWORKS) NEED TO TRANSCEND - The idea of transcending disruption came about as we thought about Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, something we frequently discuss and incorporate into our work in understanding consumer attitudes and behavior and bringing insight into a changing world. The original 5-stage model that Maslow developed in the 40’s and 50’s was later expanded to 8 stages, with the highest stage being self-transcendence--described as the need “to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential”. One of our primary objectives as an organization is to help others – established, emerging and mission-driven organizations - realize their full potential, so we are very much driven by this highest order need of transcendence in our own organization.

OUR CLIENTS NEED TO TRANSCEND DISRUPTION - But the idea of transcendence isn’t just about serving our need to help others, it is primarily about inspiring our clients to transcend disruption by authentically putting their consumers and customers’ needs above those of their own organization. Now, this may sound overly altruistic and completely unrealistic for an organization that is tasked with achieving annual top and/or bottom line growth targets, but we genuinely believe that these changing times demand that our clients deliver products, programs, services, experiences, etc. that enable their customers and consumers to realize their full potential. And, we believe that the manufacturers and retailers that are enabling their consumers and customers to achieve their potential highlight some of the best examples of organizations transcending the disruption they are faced with.

In the past year, we have moved in earnest to refocus our practice around helping companies to navigate the chaos and disruption that threatens (and may also present opportunities) to their organizations. This is now clearly our company purpose. In some cases, we have sharpened the focus of existing offerings (including our core competency offerings in innovation, brand strategy, and strategic growth planning) to address the increasing pace of change in which our clients operate. We have also developed new offerings that address specific disruptive threats that threaten to be game-changers for our clients.

We will continue to keep you posted as we continue our journey. But, in the near term, we will be driving forward with four primary initiatives and we hope that you will join us on this ride.

  1. DISRUPTION + TRANSCENDENCE HIGHLIGHTS - First, we will begin to introduce a regular communication that highlights a combined DISRUPTION + TRANSCENDENCE example. This regular update will call out a major disruptor we are seeing in the market (new product, innovative company, consumer data point or other) alongside a strong example of what an organization or person is doing / has done to transcend that disruption. We hope these communications will serve as inspiration for your organizations and bring light to the type of disruptions we are actively studying.

  2. FOCUS ON AMAZON - Second, as one of our new areas of focus, we will be addressing what, for many of our clients, is one of the most significant disruptors: Amazon. We will be discussing this in our blog and social media communications in the near future, and are already active in helping clients to better understand and anticipate the impact Amazon may have on their industry, while also devising strategies to “transcend the threat” and thrive.

  3. DISRUPTOR ANALYSIS - Third, we are increasingly helping clients deal with disruptive threats and opportunities at the corporate strategy level. Providing our clients with a comprehensive “Disruptor Analysis” can be a crucial component to annual strategic planning initiatives that set a path forward in a rapidly-changing world. We just wrapped another Disruptor Analysis project for a leading Health & Wellness company and would love to share more details about this offering with you.

  4. CONTINUOUS INNOVATION THROUGH CATAPULT - Finally, earlier this year we launched our Catapult Innovation offering, which collapses a traditional innovation pipeline effort from months to weeks, with less investment required, and superior results. We continue to evolve this offering to bring Silicon Valley-style continuous innovation (vs. the occasional “pipeline filling” operation) to companies operating outside of the tech world.

Be on the lookout in the next week or so for our regular DISRUPTION + TRANSCENDENCE example and our first point-of-view piece on Amazon as a disruptor (and what you can do to thrive – with or without Amazon as a partner).

Onward and upward!

All the best,


#PhilsCorner #Disruption