Digital Disruption – James McQuivey
This book, written by James McQuivey of Forrester research, encapsulates the core principles and thinking that I believe any business today has to embrace to preserve their future. I would say it’s recommended reading for anyone who wants to get to grips with the concept. While many of these principles are covered in other books, this is an excellent summary.
It’s a little thin on data, and draws conclusions using a series of often small and specific case studies that may or may not be indications of radical change or just one off success stories. Nonetheless, I buy into these conclusions and am signed up to the principle.
McQuivey has tried to make it an actionable book, and to that end there are some suggestions and structures you could take away and apply immediately. For example, he gives specific direction in terms of changing mindset (“From make to give, product to people, sell to want”) or on focusing on the customer (Customer needs he defines as 1) Comfort; 2) Connection; 3) Variety; 4) Uniqueness). I was able to directly apply some of these frameworks in a new product meeting we had recently.
One of the biggest questions it leaves you with, and doesn’t directly answer, is if there is actually any future for the big organisation. Early on it states that “established companies resist investment in disruption because the economics don’t add up for them” and through the book the majority of case studies are from smaller businesses (although equally he does reference Amazon Web Services as one example of a much larger business).
You assume that McQuivey does believe big organisations can survive, and indeed his own position at Forrester rather depends on that. My view is that they can, but that in order to do so they need to embrace the digital disruption principle and in practice behave like a series of smaller organisations internally.
Related to this, he introduces the concept of a disposable company that exists only to serve the purposes of a specific project. I liked this idea and it’s something I’ll be considering further. The idea that we might have teams of resource pulled together to plan and deliver on specific projects is an interesting one.