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ASCM Insights

Disruption Worries Could Hinder Your Business


Business journals and pundits everywhere you turn seem to promote disruption, warning that if you aren’t embracing it, you are dooming your organization. However, in a recent post on strategy + business, authors Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi argue that acting too hastily or not at all are the real threats to your business.

“In a recent study tracking the real-world impact of competitive upheaval, we found that the fear of disruption is exaggerated,” they write. “Companies facing disruption generally have longer to respond than they expect, and an effective response is available to them.”

On one hand, company leaders who are panicking to fight off disruption might make hurried and short-term-oriented decisions that dilute the company’s resources. On the other hand, fear of disruption can cause some leaders to hide from change and fear embracing it.

“Instead of letting anxiety about disruption lead your strategy, concentrate on making the investments that can build an identity for your company that is strong and resilient in the face of change,” Leinwand and Mainardi write.

The authors studied the pace and impact of disruption over time across multiple industries. (I encourage you to read their article in its entirety to see the total disruption by sector.) By and large, however, the authors suggest that even the sectors most turbulent and dependent on technological advancement —internet software and services, IT services, and biotechnology — didn’t see major shifts in enterprise value.

Overall, the research showed that the rate of disruption across all 39 industry segments studied is not increasing and the pace of disruption is, generally, much slower than commonly thought. “You shouldn’t try to be faster than potential upstart competitors; you should aim to be better,” they write. This means reviewing existing advantages — your capabilities, brand value and relationships — and investing in your strengths. Through their research and writing, the authors aim to empower leaders, urging them to slow down and review the data. 

Empowering the future of supply chain

In their article, Leinwand and Mainardi use the example of Amazon and the distinctive capability of its innovative supply chain. While Amazon’s supply chain is held in the highest regard, that doesn’t mean other supply chain leaders can’t nurture their own innovations to combat disruption. Consider the definition of distinctive competency from the APICS Dictionary: “A sustainable advantage that a company has over its competitors.”

One way APICS supports the future of supply chain innovation is through its Case Competition. In collaboration with Deloitte Consulting, APICS invites student teams to develop and present solutions to challenging supply chain management problems. Teams compete for recognition and prize money. Registration is now open for the 2017-2018 APICS Case Competition. Submissions will be accepted through October 31, 2017. To find out more, visit or email

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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