Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation

by James McQuivey, Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst
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YOU SHOULD READ IT IF: You want to be in business tomorrow, and you personally want to know how to disrupt yourself.  This book is written for people.  That’s what I liked about it most, I felt new sense of possibilities and inspiration.  It left me feeling like I could change my mindset, my behavior and be a disruptor, too.
James McQuivey is VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.  I’m guessing he’s had a career filled with stories – as he does an excellent job filling the pages with examples of real human stories.  Over and over again the profile of a digital disruptor is examined and taken apart.  The one thing they have in common is they are a diverse community, whom I’m not sure would all get along if put in a room together.  From Power blogger, Design Mom (motherhood meets design) or the makers of Lose It! (the app that nearly put Weight Watchers out of business), to the maker of the Bustin Jieber app who’s TEDx talk about being a 12-year developer.
McQuivey reminds us that inventions alone, don’t make a huge impact unless they truly disrupt something.  Which leads us to ask – how do you disrupt something?  This is outlined nicely as the book really covers two core focucs areas:

How to Adopt a Digital Disruptor’s mindset

The disruptor mindset is not the typical unicorns you might think of immediately such as Airbnb, Uber or Slack. Actually, the mindset it takes might mean keeping your team to just 2 people, like what HyperStealth has done with its digital-graphic camouflage business. The creator, Guy, wanted to prove a point that the $9 million in government research to create the trademarked CADPAT design for the Canadian military was a waste. And digital tools allowed him to accomplish the same feat with just twohours and $100 — he called it GUYPAT. Now his designs have turned into more than 4,000,000 uniforms . His team remains to be two people -him plus an admin assistant but he says “its still pretty much just me.”

This, and more stories of a similar vein paint the pages from cover to cover.

Behave like a Digital Disruptor

To behave like a digital disruptor, McQuivey talks about how we must be thinking ahead of the “problem — solution” mindset. Digital allows us to come up with new service and product releases at a fraction of the cost than in previous decades. To be a disruptor — you don’t need venture capital, you can kick off you idea often with just a $100. Disruptors are best able to know what their customers might want because they know their customers. Actually their customers are part of their process. Involving the customer means innovation can be tested, and insights can be learned and directly applied fast.

Along with many other insights, McQuivey outlines the delicate recipe of disruptive behavior.

 SOMETHING UNEXPECTED: The book focused on the people and the stories of disruptors. And less so on businesses, business models and companies. Its very illustrative of how diverse the disruptors are, and also how we all can be disruptors. The other unexpected were the numerous examples of companies that started small, achieve super-success and have stayed small. This gave me a nice cozy feeling. It affirmed that I don’t have to have dreams of being CEO to a team of hundreds inorder to disrupt, actually — that might be entirely the wrong way about it all together.

BONUS: The book is available in Audio version, read by McQuivey himself — a nice bonus to hear the author in his own words.

I read this book because there’s not a lot of books out there that talk about digital disruption. McQuivey comes from a research-data background having been with Forrester for many years. Anyone writing about digital disruption should have a profile that thinks about data. I’ve vowed to read all the books I can find on digital disruption— stay tuned for my reviews of these and more!

Disrupting Digital Business from R. “Ray” Wang of Constellation Research
Disrupt You from Jay Samit professor at USC and host of  Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year series
Leading Digital from Harvard Business Press by authors Westerman, McAfee and Bonnet.
 Is there a book you’ve read on the topic of digital? Send me a tweet and I’ll add it to my reading list!