room44 innovates

I don’t mean, hey wake up and smell the coffee – you’re going out of business!!!

I mean, change is happening and you are being affected. There’s an opportunity to innovate if you read the signs of disruption and act before your approach becomes “an exaggerated attitude”.

There are many times when a prospective disruption is announced, only for it to fade away unnoticed. A great idea, a charismatic founder, a well-funded start-up: you’ve seen it all before. A novel idea followed by a funding round and then…nothing. Nothing happens all the time.

But disruption can happen differently. Change can occur silently in markets aa consumer reaction is carried along with it. In these cases, a new solution grows quietly, people refer it to their circle of influence and before long, there’s a success story to write up as a great example of human-centred design.

An exaggerated attitude

Listening to a veteran WWII pilot describing his approach to landing on an aircraft carrier in a big sea, he made nothing of the size of the waves, the instability of the landing deck, the speed and unpredictability of the wind, or the metaphorical tightrope he was walking. All he said was, “we approached the deck at an exaggerated attitude”…and yet his meaning was clear.

Discussing whether a training centre would reopen to finish a teaching course, the student was asked if the course could be delivered online. She replied, “no, that would deliver a far reduced experience.”

No fanfare. No declaration of failure. No signal that a new solution is needed, but the message is clear and the opportunity stares out.


Problems across markets are often disguised by a clever turn of phrase, or ignored by management teams who don’t respond appropriately. Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, tells of company bosses gaming numbers and performance-based decisions to focus on the short-term, where the need is actually to play a longer game. This is not in the personal interest of those chasing a performance-related bonus, but it is what a strategy might demand.


Arguments are currently raging (and will probably continue to do so) over 5G technology.

Huawei is the undisputed frontrunner in commercialising 5G and is the leading supplier to government-sponsored organisations around the world. But Huawei’s Chinese origins engender suspicion and it has become the bad guy of telecoms. The US won’t work with them and the UK is back-tracking. All this against a backdrop where the CEO of British Telecom says that to strip Huawei out of its infrastructure will take at least ten years. There isn’t a single person at BT who will be in the same job in ten years, so that withdrawal from using Huawei ‘kit’ is probably already doomed.

While the arguments go on, businesses will continue to develop 5G products, launch them to market and try to make money from them. The disruption will grow, the value proposition will become ingrained in every part of life, and the noise in the supply chain won’t make the slightest difference. Huawei will inevitably attract competition but, by then, the ways in which 5G has integrated our way of life will be too far evolved for it to be outed, until another wave of disruption tapers in. It will probably happen.

Other trends to watch?

RPA will continue to do the grunt work that people used to do; healthcare is moving towards being preventative; cars will be full electric; shared transport will shrink as individuals find ways to travel without being crushed up against somebody else – think bikes, eBikes and scooters; plant-based eating will outstrip consumption of animal protein, cash is fading out in some markets, social media is the heartland of conspiracy theory. These are just a few of the viewable mega trends where disruption will affect consumer behaviour and supply chains. Companies used to selling meat processing or spark plugs, please note: your markets are in slow and irretrievable decline.

I don’t mean, hey wake up and smell the coffee – you are going out of business!!!

I mean, change is happening and you are being affected. There’s an opportunity to innovate if you read the signs and act before your approach becomes an exaggerated attitude.

Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation training. It’s what we do.

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