No matter what industry, the old story has never been more true – whether you are a gazelle or a lion, you have to run faster than others to survive. The world changes quickly, and in an amplified way. It can seem like one misstep will have disastrous results. But when it comes to disruption, the biggest disaster is to simply stand still – when you do that, if you’re a gazelle you get eaten and if you are a lion you starve.
When we see companies like Nike continuing to innovate and push their industries, we want to know: what’s the secret sauce? Then we turn and see Under Armour nipping at their heels, and wonder: where did they come from? Titan and upstart – in both cases there are similarities in their approaches to disruption that are worth understanding.
1. Orient towards disruption, not away from it.
Both companies are exploring new markets, creating new customer value propositions, and building infrastructure to continue to deliver products that are high quality and desired by consumers. They have stated goals of wanting to foundationally change their market, and their founders have exemplified that desire.
2. Know when to partner.
Nike recently turned down its internal wearables program and is focusing on developing partnerships to help it understand and build that market. Rumour has it they are looking at whole new concepts in what it means to integrate technology and athletic apparel. Meanwhile, Under Armour announced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show that it is getting into wearables in a big way through a partnership with HTC. Both companies are able to focus on what they do best – making kick ass athletic gear – while their technology partners work with them to create new opportunities.
3. Find the friction points.
In announcing its new Healthbox product, Under Armour pointed to the friction points for consumers in the current health and fitness virtual and real-world applications. They are exploiting an opportunity created by a disaggregated marketplace that is trying to address the emerging needs of consumers. The more you focus on those friction points, the more likely it is that you will disrupt your market.
4. When you are able to scale, it is time to start looking for the next opportunity to create new value.
In today’s transparent and fast-paced world, once you are able to scale an idea, the competition won’t be far behind. You have to get the value out of what you scale, but don’t become 100% invested in it or you will quickly fall behind. Need an example? When was the last time you went to a Blockbuster? Both Nike and Under Armour have shown that it is great to drive profits out of existing products, but you can’t stop there – you have to keep moving forward.