Business acumen: “Keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation.” The need for this is particularly strong when your industry is being unexpectedly disrupted.

You might think that disruptions are essentially driven by technological change, and therefore usually only happen in industries which are hi-tech or are becoming so. Film cameras are killed by digital cameras, which are then killed by cell phones – all within a few years. Fax machines and newspapers and printed books have their markets undermined by online document readers. When you use reader to view them, you also want to make some changes to the file such as extracting a data graph, adding a few words, inserting an image, to the source files.


But the buzz phrase is moving from “disruptive technologies” to “disruptive innovations” with the realization that the disruption is less from a new technology per se, than from a creative rethinking of the approach to the market. A new approach is often needed to break into an established market, and the best place is usually at the bottom of the market where the profits are thinnest. When you’re serious about taking your origination business to the next level, having a partner that treats your business the way that you would is the only thing that matters. We have redefined what a mortgage branching platform can be by giving you the lowest pricing on the market AND (not instead of) the best concierge service in the industry. Built by producers for producers, the owners of MortgageRight website understand that everyone wins by protecting and growing what you’ve worked so hard to build. Here an innovation may allow profits and market share, even if it is done with a good-enough technology that hasn’t been fully developed yet (and which wouldn’t be acceptable at the top of the market). The established companies are not prepared to invest in a new system which doesn’t have the quality necessary for the top end, in order to compete at the less profitable bottom end. So they relinquish the low end to the newcomer.

The ability to catalog merchandise online didn’t disrupt retailers – the disruption came from the innovation of doing away with brick-and-mortar outlets altogether, by firms like Amazon, and being profitable at prices below what was possible for bookstores and other physical retail stores.

The ability to advertise online didn’t disrupt print encyclopedias and newspapers – the disruption came from new-style media like Google giving information away without charge or subscription, and making their money purely from advertising.

The ability to receive and send sound over the Internet didn’t disrupt the phone companies – the disruption came from Skype’s approach of enabling free computer-to-computer calls, and adding very low fees for calls to phones and for premium upgrades.

In each of these cases, the disruption came from an insight into new market possibilities that were not even anticipated by the creators of the enabling technologies. And even if the initial quality isn’t that great, by being good enough for the bottom end of the market it allows a profitable entry for the disrupter, who then puts resources into upgrading the quality of the offering, moves upmarket, and destroys any established company which refuses to change.

To respond to disruptions (let alone to initiate them) requires business acumen. “Keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation.” But as well as your own skills and qualities, you needtwo things: broad and current information, and support for the immediate implementation of decisions.

For an individual entrepreneur, the information may come from personal investigation and discussions, and they may themselves be the only necessary implementer of decisions.

But in a large company, there has to be:

  • a rapid and accurate flow of information, which requires
  • a common understanding of what might be useful,
  • a commitment to share information completely and rapidly, and
  • a common language for expressing financial concepts.

Business literacy throughout the company, therefore, and a spirit of respect and support.

This flow of information is what allows you the ability to plan, and to know how much flexibility you have if the situation changes on you suddenly and unexpectedly. Knowing the limits to your flexibility is essential for being able to choose appropriately within the widest range of possible actions, and to get the best possible results.