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The Nine Patterns of Disruption

Welcome to the seventeenth lesson in Cipher’s Strategy & Analysis Education Series. In every lesson, we’ll cover a key framework or methodology used by leading strategy consultants.

All organizations fear disruption, such as unexpected challengers that suddenly appear and upend the business. But the reality is that the majority of disruptors follow one of nine key patterns. Today, we’ll explore those patterns so you can understand where you’re most vulnerable.

Key Takeaways:

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Established businesses live in constant threat of disruption from new entrants who use innovative technologies and business models to build value.

By understanding the forms disruption usually takes, managers can better identify and defend against potentially disruptive forces.

There are nine key disruption patterns leaders should be aware of.

About the Nine Patterns of Disruption

Many business leaders are kept up at night by the looming threat of unforseen disruption. Managers can mitigate this by monitoring the macro sources of disruption but, in addition, they should also be aware of the patterns that disruption commonly takes. 

The nine patterns of disruption framework, developed by Deloitte, outlines the strategies most often pursued by disruptors. They are:

  1. Unlocking assets from adjacent markets
  2. Aligning price with use
  3. Turning products into product platforms
  4. Shortening the value chain
  5. Unbundling products and services
  6. Expanding market reach
  7. Converging products
  8. Distributing product development
  9. Connecting peers

By becoming aware of the patterns disruptors tend to take, organizations can better understand––and monitor––the threats to their business. Armed with these insights, leaders can respond, typically by exiting the market on favorable terms, becoming the disruption themselves, or by undermining the disruptor.

Continue Learning

This Deloitte report explores the nine patterns of disruption in great detail, sharing a collection of case studies that explore disruption in action.

Read the Article

Your Next Steps

Yes, we are actually assigning you homework! Now that you've learned about this, your next steps are to...

Step 1

Download our Disruptor Planning Worksheet.

Step 2

Fill out the template for each disruptor you identified in the previous exercise. [Time required: 1-3 hours]

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