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This module investigates the context of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world which defines the pace and scale of change organizations face, looks specifically at technology and the ‘tech-shift’ which has resulted in a proliferation of tech-centric working methods, highlights the threats facing organizations from disruptors who take advantage of the opportunities arising from change and technological advances to challenge existing markets, and looks at the concept of a delta or ‘threat gap’ and define how an organization can use this to create better value.

Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of:

  • The impact of technology
  • The nature of change in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world
  • The technology shift and tech-centric activities
  • Disruptors – who they are and what they do
  • Identifying and managing the delta
  • The meaning of ‘value’

Intended Audience 

The target audience for the AgileSHIFT qualification is any employee of an organization that intends to adopt AgileSHIFT. This includes people who will become champions of the new working practice and employees from any part of the business who will contribute to the incremental improvements that will make up the wider change the organization requires.


There are no specific prerequisites to study the AgileSHIFT course or for entry to the examination.


We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at to let us know what you think.


Changing the norms 

Disrupters change the norms of a market – that means they’re good at anticipating future customer needs, creating something new and challenging what already exists.  


Any organization can be a disruptor, but it’s generally easier for new, small and flexible businesses to disrupt larger and more ‘traditional’ organizations.  


Let’s consider the automotive industry, where electric vehicles have been disruptive. Demand has changed the whole market – moving from a reliance on fossil fuels to more sustainable power sources. Since it began, the industry has focused on creating more efficient petrol and diesel engines. Now, the demand has changed to a completely new product which is driving innovation. Tesla is a disruptor here – they didn’t try to make a petrol engine more efficient – they created an electric car. 


So, disruptors can change an industry in an unexpected way – and create a market which didn’t exist before. This means they change the way we think and behave by looking at things differently – they shift the expectations and behaviors in a market and generally use new technologies to do this.  


The reality of this is that disruptors can often compete more effectively than existing organizations, so they can displace or destroy them by changing the market. 


OK, but who are these disruptors? 


Here’s a few to kick us off: 

  • Dyson, through the first dual cyclone, bagless vacuum cleaner; 

  • Apple, who we all know about; 

  • Uber – changing the way we use taxis;  

  • Spotify who are bringing music to us; 

  • Ikea who gave us Swedish meatballs and showed us a new way to shop for furniture; and 

  • eBay, who have shaken up the retail market. 


As well as using technology to drive change, disruptors also take advantage of other relatively new developments – like the gig economy, remote working, cloud computing and online marketing.  


  • The gig economy has changed the way we work. It’s a flexible labor market characterized by temporary, short-term contracts and freelance working. This means no formal employment contracts or large office spaces, and is good for rapidly growing businesses; 


  • Remote working means workers don’t need to be in the same office. Technology enables many of us to literally work from anywhere, which means no expensive office space, and provides the skills a business needs, no matter where they’re located; 


  • Cloud computing has reduced the risk and cost of computer hardware, software and storage, so it’s made it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to operate. Technology can be accessed for a low initial outlay and operational costs can flex as business requirements change; 


  • The window of a small business to their customers is through their website and digital marketing activities like social media posts and podcasts. So, they can appear to be established and successful – and bigger than they actually are – through an effective online approach.  


By leveraging these opportunities, disruptors can exploit inefficient markets where there’s a gap between what the customer wants and what the existing organizations are offering.  


Black swans 

Ever heard of a ‘black swan event’? 


It’s about market disruption and means an event that’s totally unexpected and unpredictable but has far-reaching consequences – like the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the financial crash of 2008 and, of course, Brexit. 


Although unexpected, organizations need to respond to – and predict – the needs of their customers when these events arise. Disruptors can often react quicker when black swan events happen and that gives them an advantage. 


This concept of agility is important in AgileSHIFT and we’ll look into how staff across the organization can work in a more agile way in later videos. 


Before you move on, why not try The Disruptor reflective activity to help you think about the disruptors affecting your organization. 


You’ll also find some useful case studies and examples in the Making it Real guide. 

About the Author
Learning Paths

Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting, and Project/Program Management working with public, private, and third sector organizations.

He has helped organizations to design and create processes and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider, utilizing a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.

As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills, Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.

Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Program and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers, and worked at the director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.