How to Disrupt Yourself: The No Non-sense and Practical Way

There are a lot of books and experts who preach about digital transformation and disruption. While this is commendable and needed, most of the time they use case studies from Silicon Valley and bombard us with a lot of buzz words. The recommendations that they give are also not practical and realistic given Filipino culture. In my digital advertising career I’ve worked with a multitude of Filipino companies and multinationals and they have common problems that prevent them from pivoting/transforming. For this post I’ve filtered and condensed them to a 2-step no non-sense and practical way that you can follow for your business.

Read Also: Creative Destruction is the Enemy of Business-as-Usual

1. Transformation is Top Down

The Boss

No less than the CEO should be the executive sponsor of a transformation and self-disruption project. It’s critical that the main man should be involved because digital transformation spans across the entire organization. It’s not just marketing or product. It involves legal, finance, customer support, sales, and all other departments. Everyone will have to change and evolve to accelerate the changes that need to be made.

Make no mistake about it: digital transformation is difficult and painful, especially for established big corporations. Here’s the brutal truth: a lot of departments’ main job is to force compliance and stop change. To do this they create multiple, long, and redundant processes. This is okay if you’re on cruise mode but if you are going through a season of disruption and you need to change, this is the last thing that you need.

So let’s say the CEO is already behind the idea of transforming or pivoting, what’s next?

2. Create and Empower a Separate Team that Will Function Like a Start-up

Disrupting yourself means challenging your core business. This is why I don’t believe that your existing people should double hat and lead the transformation initiative. Here’s how I would do it:

  • Assign a senior executive or hire a new one (sometimes it’s better to get someone new and with fresh eyes) to lead the project and form an initial small team for support to scope the transformation roadmap.
  • The team creates the strategy, roadmap, resource plan, and timings for the project and secures approval from the CEO and the Execom. This includes the business plan.
  • The team should function like a start-up and have the capabilities to function on their own without going through all the rules and processes that the core business needs. They need to move fast so they can launch, fail, learn, and iterate.
  • The team reports directly to the CEO.
  • Once there’s initial success that has potential, make the call to scale by adding more funding and additional resources.

In short, you need to create an empowered team that’s insulated from politics and unnecessary processes.

Additional tip: get someone who thrives in the unknown and loves challenges to lead the initiative. Get an executive who’s a problem solver with a strong bias for action, in love with data, and is a strategic thinker. Once you find that person, support them well by surrounding them with complimentary people.

See Also: To Accelerate Digital Transformation, Reduce Management Politics

Don’t Do It Half-Heartedly

We’ve seen it so many times — clients making a lot of headway into launching their new e-commerce play or new killer app and yet they fail to see things through because of fear and they end up overprotecting their core business. In Judo we have a saying of “committing yourself to the throw”. You need to do the same with digital transformation and self-disruption. There are times when it may be counterintuitive, but if the risk is not that high and the reward is potentially there, you need to go for it and see things through.




So to summarize: get your CEO to sponsor it, build and empower a team that will lead it, and see things through. You’ll make some mistakes along the way but the rewards simply outweigh the risks.

Let us know what you think about digital transformation and self-disruption in the comments section below!

This is part of our Disruption Series. Click below for other posts.

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox ( Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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