Today is the first day of Fashion Week in New York. Industry players from around the world get a first-hand view of the new designs. Top designers try to get fashion-forward writers to promote their latest lines. Top retailers send their top buyers to decide what will sell. A great industry, some top notch players, global markets.
There’s only one problem. The must-have outfits won’t show up in stores for six months. In a see-now, buy-now, and wear-now world, that’s an eternity. A sure sign that the industry is ripe for some out-of-the-box thinking. They’d do well to check out Process Redesign, our course on how to think differently about your business.
But, they’d better hurry as time is running out. Enterprising entrepreneurs will be at the runways as well (see “Smart Phones Killing Off the Fashion Show”) – equipped with smart phones, they’ll capture and transmit the latest styles in real time, negotiate deals with fabrication shops halfway around the world, and get knock-offs into production and out to the market, via online sites, for next-day delivery.
In short, it’s industry disruption: Using 21st-century capabilities to re-engineer an obsolete business model.
While legacy players bet on process improvement and automation, these disrupters are acting on a different business imperative, “Don’t automate, obliterate!” They’re the industry’s change catalysts, questioning legacy assumptions, and asking tough questions:
- Why let Vogue declare a trend next month, when fashion blogs do it next day?
- Why produce in high volume factories rather than small-batch workshops?
- Why hold inventory when we can ship direct to consumer?
- Why stock and sell in a store instead of through an online catalog?
And fashion is not that much different from other industries – most likely including yours. There are disrupters at work everywhere. And where there’s a threat of disruption, there’s a need to be prepared and to respond. For a start, ask yourself:
- Which assumptions are obsolete in our business?
- What business practices are costing us more than they’re worth?
- Where are we out of sync with our customers?
- How will technology revolutionize our products? Services? Business models?
- Where can I, and my team, be internal disrupters – catalysts for change?
Although you may not be an entrepreneur, there’s nothing that says you can’t think and act like one.