When contemplating possible threats to their business, many executives worry about disruption. They see competitors with new technologies poised to capture their existing customers, and they know it’s better to be a disruptor than a disruptee. But disruption is often misunderstood. In fact, as New Yorker writer Jill Lepore points out (“The Disruption Machine,” June 23, 2014), many celebrated cases have been less disruptive than they were portrayed as being. What most industries experience as disruption is typically not a sudden change from one source, but the accumulated impact of a range of interacting factors. If you want to be prepared for disruption, it’s critical to understand the more gradual, prevalent, and multifaceted dynamic that underlies it: a phenomenon called dematurity.
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