A recent Progressive Grocer article shared data indicating approximately one-third of all retailers are fearful to make any change during these inflationary times.
The piece goes on to point out this issue’s alignment with the late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a book classic that has helped leaders across many industries better understand how to prepare for and manage disruptions.
The book’s research indicates that the best-managed companies often stumble during disruptions by failing to prepare themselves for future customer demand. As Christensen noted, “these companies – including iconic brands such as Xerox and Sears Roebuck – failed not because they were not well managed, but because the very management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it difficult for them to develop the disruptive technologies that ultimately steal away their markets… these companies have become hostage to their top customers.”
But retail leaders must also be aware that the pace of change and “technology disruption” might come faster than one thinks. As the article points out, it can be difficult to predict the future or the ever-increasing pace of change.
Further, as Christensen suggests and as others, including Simon Sinek, have warned, it is dangerous to project the future linearly, when in fact technology accelerates exponentially.
The article concludes that, by remaining hostage to one’s best customers today, retailers risk failing to allocate adequate resources to “future-proof” their business, while they have little understanding of how fast customer needs will change. This puts pressure on “late adopters” to react to those changes and adapt their service architecture to meet future needs.