Carvajal feels there is a clear choice in the market today. She says, “What it comes down to is really understanding who you are, what markets do you serve. And being ahead of the times, in a way, thinking about how the world is changing around you—not just for you, but for your customers, your customers’ customers, where things are going, and having the foresight to take actions or make decisions. Whether or not to disrupt or be disrupted? That’s a choice.”
Foresight is certainly its own growing discipline, which seems to be needed now more than ever, with the economy, wars, inflation and so on. Just how can one act on those big trends as opposed to the noise of in-the-moment trends?
“One must separate signals from the noise,” Carvajal says. “There are things you can predict, and I think there are things that you cannot predict like COVID. Sometimes there are seismic shifts that you just don’t anticipate, that in themselves provide ground for disruption in one way or another. So how to read the tea leaves? I think there’s a certain amount of discipline, deliberate action, to really be aware of what’s going on around you.”
She continues, “It’s not just reading the news and following what your competitors are doing, thinking how do I disrupt for the sake of being a disruptor. That’s not necessarily going to give you results. It’s ultimately understanding what is the problem that you’re trying to solve and for whom. And what is the extent of the ecosystem that surrounds that problem that you need to address. It’s not really in the small trends or temporary trends that are happening in the moment or that you can’t even predict. It’s really in how far do you look across your ecosystem to understand what the opportunity is.”
What are some key hurdles or opportunities when you have decided to “go” on a disruptive innovation?
Carvajal observes, “Once you make a decision to go, you need to understand how the market will react, what are the actions that your competitors might take? Who might become obsolete? Are they ahead of the game or ahead of the curve? Or do they have some competitive advantage to circumvent your moves. You need to be a little bit of a player. Play the game and just be smart in a way to position yourself for success. Ultimately, you want to create value that’s sticky. What you cannot lose sight of is the value that you created, the benefit, and the stickiness of that benefit.”
Besides looking externally, an organization must also look internally during this moment of disruption.
“Organizations underestimate the amount of effort for the type of transformation and change that needs to take place for your innovation to be successful in the market,” says Carvajal. “You may have the best product. But if you’re disrupting an entire industry, you’re disrupting business models potentially, maybe even your own. You would need to make a decision, do I build a completely new organization, new business model, or do I adopt or cannibalize some of my existing practices in order for this to be successful. For innovation, and transformation, they are continuous processes, they never stop. Just because you’re ready to launch, the game is not over. The game is just beginning.”
See the video from FEI for more on Seth Adler’s conversation with Angelina Carvajal, as they discuss the momentum of innovation, the age of consumerism and the digitization of things.