Just how ready is your market for disruption?

‘You don’t see it until you’ve understood it’, the philosopher and footballer Johan Cruyff once said. Well, the topsy-turvy, digital  world that we’ve all evolved in, that’s not something you can grasp with the old inherited views, measuring tools and associated logic. To learn to understand what’s happening there, you have to radically throw open your own mindset. To question anything and everything. To turn everything on its head.

If you want to know if your own market is ripe for disruption, you ought to check first how well your market scores on the TREE scale. The TREE principle is a concept that I devised specially for my new book ‘Managers – The Day After Tomorrow’ that will be published shortly. TREE helps you to look in the ‘technology-mirror’ and see gyrations, in other words ‘upheaval’.

The paradigm shift in the car market, for example, illustrates that TREE principle perfectly.

Technology First

The T in TREE stands for ‘Technology First’… The ‛car of the future’ is a ‘mobile’ computer which also happens to take you from A to B, powered by AI and big data. The digital evolution has an exponential nature and is setting all manner of flywheels in motion: new startups, new customer behaviors, new political behavior, new regulations and, yet again, more new technology.

Red ocean

The R stands for ‘Red ocean’… Disruptors don’t target a completely new market, but opt for the deep, red ocean. They tap into customer frustrations on an existing big market, where the established players optimize the customer by means of a KPI (Key Performance Indicator). How does that work in the automotive sector? Well, the customer has been lied to for a long time. Cars, it seems, are much more polluting than ever claimed in those glossy advertisements. That private car is stood parked, for 90% of the time, unused. And even when it’s used, it’s ‘parked’ in a traffic jam. So owning your own vehicle is expensive; more of an inconvenience than a convenience. The near-term question is no longer: ‘Who’s going to buy a diesel car anymore?’ The new question is: ‘Who’s going to buy a car anymore?’

Customer Engagement

The E of ‘Customer Engagement’… As soon as a customer has a better experience, he no longer wants to go back to the previous, inferior experience. Customers are looking for greater business transparency, sincerity, speed and trust. And, for that, they rely increasingly on their peers. Customers are behaving more disruptively, and pulling their peers along in their wake. They are the ‘Sales and Marketing’ and even the ‛infrastructure’ of the disruptor. So, interpreting that, for the automotive sector: a customer that embraces the ‛new mobility’, will never look back and will inspire others to do the same.


The E of ‘Ecosystem’… The change is kindled exponentially from a tech-ecosystem of business partners that spar with and motivate one another. Universities, startups and technology players toil individually – and collectively – for change. Between them, they attract huge sums of seed capital. This too is evident in the automotive sector: players from here, there and everywhere, new on the scene with newly-invented ideas, capitalizing on the trend toward better, sustainable mobility.

Everywhere you can see new, customer-oriented, tall, digital trees, regardless of the market in which you’re engaged. Initially, those new tall trees on your horizon attract an unusual set of people. But numbers swell, and soon it’s a horde. If your market complies with the TREE principle, then you’d best crack the code quickly and plant some new trees while you’re about it.