Digital Disruption. We’ve all heard that term a ton of times. But what does it really mean?

In my career, I’ve seen disruption of many kinds. We are currently seeing it on a huge scale in HR. But it is all too easy to look in the rear view mirror and accept the inevitable. Successes look as though they were meant to happen. Consider Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Uber. Can you imagine your life without them?

If you can’t then you’re looking in the rearview mirror.

Predicting Change

These companies have come along and disrupted their industries to such an extent that they’ve become integral to our way of life. Yet we did live without them. When we were happily going about our business without them, how many people could genuinely have seen ahead, and predicted that these would be the specific ways these industries could be changed?

The answer: precious few. Which is why the people who started them are billionaires. And deservedly so, in my view.

The frog

Put a frog in a pan of cold water, and turn up the heat. It will gradually go to sleep as the water warms up, lulled into a false sense of comfort and security.

When the water reaches 40%, it will simply die, without realising its fate.

And there is the rub. If we go to sleep, happy and content in our market niche, we too might boil to death as digital disruption comes to our industry.

Boiling frog

Your organisation

Think about how well prepared your organisation is for digital disruption — that you haven’t even heard of yet.

Think about the organisation you are working in right now — where are YOUR vulnerabilities? In each of the functions listed below, you should aim to be less of the characteristic on the left, and more of that on the right.

Operating Model

Pre-defined vs Mixed Dynamic


Functional Silo vs Service Cell/Pod


Inertia vs Progressive


Bespoke/Fixed vs Commodity/Configurable

Corporate Focus

Analytic vs Outcome based


Single Discipline vs Whole Lifecyle/Full Stack

Human Resources

Centralised/Generalist vs De-centralised/specialist

What can you improve or change? How can you get buy-in from organisation leadership?

Be T Shaped

The final piece of the puzzle is making yourself as an individual equipped for change and digital disruption. How T Shaped are you?

T shaped

What can you improve or change? How can you get buy-in from organisation leadership?

Working in an Agile team puts huge demands on everyone. Luckily, there’s no excuse for not being T- Shaped. Whatever your discipline, make the effort to acquire a working knowledge of others so that you can collaborate across silos. This will spark innovation and enable a progressive organisational culture.

One silo that still exists in organisations is HR. Bust it open with the new breed of HR software such as Air, which enables people to work together seamlessly.

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