The motto “We’d rather cannibalize ourselves than others cannibalize us” is used by Google’s top management to commit employees to changes and disruptions. Because nothing has to stay the way it is today. Whether digital change or even the current Corona crisis, only those who constantly question, optimize and reinvent themselves can maintain a strong competitive position in the long term.
Economics originally called “cannibalization” the increase in sales of a product at the expense of a mostly higher-priced product from the same provider. The provider therefore runs the risk that its established, more expensive product will lose market significance if another, but cheaper, solution is introduced. You almost cannibalize yourself. Today, cannibalization means that a more modern product displaces an established product. It is no longer about price advantages, but about disruptive innovations with groundbreaking, radical innovations. The well-known definition of a disruption by Clayton Christensen from 1993 fits here, because it makes an existing solution (product, service, process, market or business model) obsolete.
Drivers of this effect, which Schumpeter had already described as creative destruction in 1942, are, among other things, the incubators of digital transformation in the form of higher networking and compatibility of systems, the cost reduction of technologies and IT systems as well as the establishment of new technologies (such as artificial intelligence or additive manufacturing / 3D printing). However, the new business models established by competitors are even more important than technological leaps in development.
And this is exactly where the motto of this article “Cannibalize yourself” is gaining enormous importance: It is not new technologies that produce disruptions (the so-called technology push), but new business models (the so-called market pull). Many years before Skype there was peer2peer technology, before AirBnB the internet or before the current hype podcast technology. Disruptions are only marginally about (modern) technologies, but first of all about new business models. More important than technology is the willingness to fundamentally question familiar solutions and to implement new ideas consistently and successfully. It’s about a corporate culture in which you can continuously question yourself and cannibalize with disruptive solutions.
But do we have the right employees at all? Do they have the relevant professional and social skills to continuously question themselves and their performance? Do they have the necessary organizational freedom to openly question what they are used to? And do we have the right management, which not only speaks of agility and ambidextry, but also honestly exemplify these principles? Here, however, I become skeptical because there are many talks about changes, but they don’t really want them or only want them from the others. One is caught in old patterns of thinking, egoism predominates or simply the fear of the unknown. The motto “We’d rather cannibalize ourselves than others cannibalize us” serves as a call for initiative, agility, a thirst for adventure and individual responsibility for the future.
All of Marcus Disselkamp’s blog posts on the topic of competitiveness in times of digital transformation can be found on his Blog page on 4investors: click here!
Marcus Disselkamp is our guest author on the topic of competitiveness in times of digital transformation. His latest book, entitled: “Digital Megatrends – The Future of Business” was published at the end of 2019. You can find out more about him and his business coaching at www.disselkamp.com. On all known streaming services you will also find his two podcast series “Briefly asked” and “Have you already thought of it?”.
Disclaimer: The text and the podcast are a column by Marcus Disselkamp. The content of the column is not the responsibility of 4investors and therefore does not necessarily have to agree with the opinion of the 4investors editorial team. Any liability and claims are therefore expressly excluded by 4investors!
At a glance – chart and news: DAX stock index