Strong business foundations will withstand disruptions in future

Sunday November 26 2023

Top view of boots with a text. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


How many people are prepared for the disruption that lies ahead? How I wish that disruption was a destination that came once in a lifetime and went forever. Covid-19 was the greatest gamechanger disruption so far in my lifetime but like every earthquake prone territory, aftershocks will come and more earthquakes are to be expected. What is the aftermath of disruption? It reveals foundations and exposes fault lines.

There is a parable told of two men who built their houses at the same time. One built on sand while the other built on a rock. The one who built on the sand would naturally have finished building before the one who built on the rock. The days of foundation laying are never easy and never appreciated but this is the most important phase in any life and in any business. If the foundations are destroyed you will find yourself in a very helpless situation — which could have been avoided!

The story goes that a storm came to the two houses and the one built on sand went down swiftly while the one built on the rock stood firm during the storm. Do not be moved or impressed by things that appear to stand strong and tall when there is no challenge. The test of foundation is the storm and Covid-19 revealed the foundations of many businesses. But then, disruption is a way of life. There are some that survived Covid-19 and are not surviving the tsunami of increase in prices due to many global factors.

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In an era where giants tumble and startups soar, Jeff Bezos, the world's wealthiest individual, sounds a sobering alarm: Amazon, the behemoth he nurtured, is not impervious to failure. Echoing this sentiment, Bill Gates, in his seminal work "Business at the Speed of Thought," foresaw a future where an upstart could dethrone Microsoft.

This shared philosophy, grounded in what can be termed 'progressive paranoia,' is not mere pessimism but a strategic tool for longevity in a rapidly evolving marketplace.


As Facebook, valued at half a trillion dollars, voraciously acquires fresh talent and intellectual property, it exemplifies the crucial battle for relevance. Many corporations, complacent in their dominance, are unaware of the disruptive tides until they're engulfed. These entities, likened to goldfish in a bowl, are ill-prepared for the oceanic realities of the business world, where predators like great white sharks loom.

Facebook's acquisition spree, including the $1 billion gamble on Instagram—a then modest 13-person app — illustrates this relentless pursuit of innovation. Despite external pressures, Facebook, through Instagram, is subtly rewriting its destiny, showcasing a masterclass in strategic foresight. If Facebook falters, Instagram is primed to lead, underscoring the importance of internal disruption as a defense mechanism against external threats.

The key to withstanding the hurricane of industry disruption lies in adaptability. The oak tree, rigid and unyielding, is more likely to fall in a storm than a flexible shrub. This analogy serves as a stark reminder that a fixed mindset in corporate leadership is a recipe for obsolescence. Organisations must be agile yet consistent, adaptable in methods but steadfast in objectives.

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To prepare for disruption, we must acknowledge that no entity, regardless of size, wealth, or intelligence, is immune. History is littered with the remnants of once-great companies undone by their inability to adapt. True intelligence, then, is not merely academic but dynamically relevant to changing contexts.

In the landscape of business, insignificance is the real threat, not competition.

We must consistently evaluate and reinforce our foundations. It is only in continuous improvement and reinforcements that we stand a chance when the next disruption comes.

Disruption can be disrupted.

By understanding the forces at play and adapting with agility and foresight, companies can navigate these turbulent times. The greatest tribute to innovation is not just imitation but also being marked for disruption, signifying a position of influence and relevance in a constantly evolving marketplace.

Chief Transformation Officer, PowerTalks; wale@powertalks;; X @waleakinyemi