This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Disruptor or Disruptee ?
Share |


Subject: Disruptor or Disruptee? Notes from CEO Coffee Meeting 25/09/2018


What did the related Chairman's Network Digital Disruption event at Harvey Nash discuss 2 weeks ago?

  • Typically the Board's/shareholder's financial imperative will override the degree of investment and change required
  • Disruption can be 
    • Macro, or business model
    • Micro, or operating model
  • The Board cannot afford to stand still

What do we mean by digital disruption?

  • Technological change ranges from minor functional enhancements to a restructured (often low cost) industry platform
    • Industry examples - Uber for taxis; Monzo, the app-based bank
    • Operations example - the Slack app, for improved communication
  • Impact - in Switzerland, some people are being paid not to work
  • Should the propensity for being disrupted be put as a risk on annual reports?

How far ahead should (and can) we look? Responses included:

  • Innovation on an industry level is 'an impossibility' (assuming a typical financial imperative)
  • Startups and/or very large innovation budgets are the likely source of disruption
  • We should be flexible and responsive rather than over-emphasise strategy and planning

As an example technology, how could 3D printing affect you or your business?

  • Teenagers would like to design and print their own trainers at home (see Nike, Adidas et al); awaiting printer cost reduction
  • Highly responsive prototyping is available now on a wide range materials
  • Other technologies include artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, etc.

How should CEOs, and Boards, take full account of disruption?

  • Decide which technologies are relevant to your industry and business and watch them closely
  • Consider your reaction capability
  • Consider how frequently you should be discussing strategy


  • To be a disruptor, fund free thinking at the micro and/or macro level
  • Major disruption may take major funding and long term payback times
  • Most organisations will fare best through watching closely and reacting quickly


John Bickell is a Member and Host of our CEO Group and runs a consultancy specialising in growth strategies and their execution. 

He can be contacted on 07801 824115  E-Mail

and via

I have read the Privacy Policy and grant consent to use my data.
Please give us any feedback from the recent Chairman's Network Event.

Chair docs

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Chair Evolving role PDF (2.13 MB)  more ] Administration 07/02/2020

Event documents

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Climate Change Event Link  more ] Administration 17/06/2019
Climate Change Event Link  more ] Administration 17/06/2019

Member documents

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Cyber Security: Board Perspectives PDF (322.36 KB) J. Madelin 20/06/2017
Cybersecurity Checklist PDF (238.31 KB)  more ] Administration 05/06/2017
Cybersecurity Essentials PDF (26.25 KB)  more ] Administration 05/06/2017
GDPR Overview Jim Sneddon PDF (4.8 MB)  more ] Administration 05/06/2017
Flexibility for the Digital Boardroom Link Administration 23/05/2017
Board Diversity DOCX (30.56 KB) Administration 13/06/2016
AspiringNXD DOC (50.5 KB) Administration 13/06/2016