I do not claim to be an expert on dealing with disruption but I do lay claim to having a lot of experience with it. After all, The Chariot Group has made its home in the technology sector, an industry that is defined by continuous disruption and, as a result, is subject to ceaseless change.
The Chariot Group was founded in 1999 and, as I think about the world events since we opened its doors, I am amazed at the disruption they have caused. The .com crash, Enron, Global Crossing, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and the biggest financial crisis since the great depression have all been major disrupters to this industry. Add to this, that The Chariot Group was founded and remains headquartered in Alaska, a long way from the hubs of technology, and it is easy to believe failure or disaster was inevitable. And yet, as you can tell by the “Education Insights” story in this publication, The Chariot Group is not only still in business, but was recently recognized as one of the leaders in our industry.
The fact is that disruption does not dictate an outcome. Rather, it is one’s response to disruption that dictates the result.
From disruption, I have learned:
When everything is uncertain, anything is possible.
Said another way, with uncertainty comes opportunity. It has been my experience that disruption and the uncertainty that results from it is one of the greatest catalyst for imaginative thinking. We are forced by circumstance to look at our business in a different way. We have to, figuratively speaking, pour all of the pieces and parts out on the floor and reimagine their purpose and fit. In this way disruption serves the purpose of forcing us to make decisions we are unwilling to make or ignore during less demanding times.
If nothing around us is moving, the odds are we aren’t either.
This is true for both employees and industries. Have you ever changed jobs simply because there was no opportunity for promotion? Nothing around you was moving so you had to. The same is true for business and the economy has a whole. Movement creates gaps and those gaps are filled with opportunity.
Innovation is required.
In today’s business environment, you are either affecting change or being affected by change. I believe we are better off if we choose to be in the driver’s seat. There is a story from my college Economics 101 class that I have always kept close – In the early days, American railroads were a commanding force of commerce. They moved the vast majority of the goods across the country and were the powerhouses of business, Vanderbilt as an example. As trucking was being introduced to the market, the railroad companies were asked if they were going to integrate trucking to their business offering. As the story goes, they responded that they were railroad companies, not trucking companies. Hind sight is 20/20 and I think we know how the story ended. The lesson here is a lack of imagination and a failure to innovate. The railroad leadership of the day thought they were in the railroad business never realizing they were in the actually in the transportation business and that trucking was the next innovation.
Your biggest disadvantage can be your greatest asset!
Being far removed from the “hub of technology” provided the benefit of isolating me from the limiting thinking and paradigms of my industry peers and norms. It is true that individuals have accomplished amazing things simply because they did not know any better.
From disruption comes great opportunity.
This article first appeared in the July 2016 issue of STRIVE magazine.
About the Author
Rick Thomas gets up every day with the goal of improving communication. Rick sincerely believes all errors and conflicts can be traced back to a single point of origin: ineffective or, in many cases, a complete absence of communication. In Rick’s role as Founder and CEO of The Chariot Group, he and his staff dedicate their efforts to utilizing innovative solutions to better connect people and ideas. Rick is a career entrepreneur and, as such, believes that if there is a problem or void, he and his team can fill it. He knows it takes only an innovative mind, perseverance and gumption.