Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

The New Disruptors: Outsight and How to Compete with Amazon

The age of change has passed. We now live in an age of disruption. It’s the one constant - and it doesn’t matter your business.

Books and publishing is an easy industry to track disruption. It wasn’t all that long ago when every mall in the country had a Walden Bookstore or a Borders. Many of those same malls may have had other bookstores, as well.

Now finding a bookstore anywhere can be difficult. Especially one with the soothingly familiar names of the large chains - with huge selections and regular sales.

They could no longer compete.

Most bookstores were not able to figure out new ways of thinking about their business models and marketing. They lacked any real outsight and most of the major chain bookstores faded in the west, as the bright sun of Amazon rose in the East.

My favorite independent bookstore in my town is on Main Street and it’s called M. Judson Booksellers. Go there is you’re ever in Greenville, SC.

The Rise of the Indies

But a few did figure it out. I frequent a local bookstore who has partnered with a local bakery. Books are full price and there is a limited selection that is quite intentional. They curate local authors, cookbooks, children’s and YA books. The feature books that their staff likes. They encourage reading. They don’t try to do everything. But they do a few things. And they do those few things well.

Sure, no bookstore can compete with Amazon’s inventory. Which means they can’t compete with Amazon’s price. But, selection and price are not always the most valuable commodities in this brave new world we find ourselves.

Connection is rare.

And increasingly valuable.

Amazon has no capacity to compete with the experience I had yesterday with a coffee and a ginger cookie and having a conversation with an employee about the astounding artwork I found in a beautifully bound children’s fairy tale.

I’ll pay for that experience. And based on how many people were in this store on a Tuesday afternoon, I’m not alone.

Someone practiced outsight. Outsight is required in a world defined by change. Every business - every non-profit - is susceptible to disruption. In fact, the current disruptors are susceptible to disruption.

Good leaders are looking to the horizon. They are asking questions about what’s coming. The storms that are brewing. They are connecting the disparate dots and listening to diverse perspectives. Ear to the ground. Trying new things, new models, new marketing. Asking great questions.

Practice outsight where ever you are. Outsight can’t happen in a vacuum (insight can) or even a boardroom. When you begin thinking outside of what you know - you become the one bringing new ideas to the table. The new disruptor.

And you may find yourself leading the next disruption by default.