Edited by Robert DeFillippi, Alison Rieple and Patrik Wikström
One of the most obvious trends in business, and indeed society as a whole, is the rapid and increasing pace of change. Paradigmatic shifts arising from technological change have a long history, of course, of fundamentally disrupting established economic models – consider the many scribes put out of work by the invention of the printing press, the many handworkers and seamstresses rendered superfluous by the spinning jenny, the many blacksmiths and horse-and- buggy makers consigned to history by the invention of the motor car. Nevertheless, for much of the twentieth century, it was possible for the senior leaders of many organizations to operate with a relatively well-entrenched complacency about the risk to their businesses of disruptive change. As we have moved into the twenty-first century, however, it has become more and more apparent that there is little room for such complacency in the board rooms and executive suites of most organizations. Fuelled by the rise of the internet, arguably the most disruptive of new technologies since the Industrial Revolution, but also backed by new technologies emerging on multiple fronts, such as the smart phone and the 3D printer, the incumbent assumptions and business models on which whole industries are based have been subjected to sweeping disruption. At the same time, there has been a major flattening of the marketplace in terms of many of the factors that have previously created competitive advantage – scale and global footprint, efficient supply chains, manufacturing quality, specialist expertise (Friedman, 2007).
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