Is your business ready for disruptive events?

No, I don’t mean the collapse of the global economy, oil prices over $150 a barrel, or even worse, Starbucks closing for three hours.

I mean truly disruptive things in your business. The easy example is fuel.

Increased fuel prices are similarly disruptive to a multitude of businesses, but that has been analyzed to death so I’ll leave it alone.

Instead, let’s look at apples.

A few years ago, McDonald’s started selling apple slices and some sort of caramel-like substance made of high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring. And they started selling salads with apples in them. And a few other menu items have apples.

This all started at about the same time.

Almost overnight, McDonald’s became one of the largest, if not the largest, U.S. consumer of apples. Billions of apples are suddenly in play that were previously happily shipped to anyone who wanted them.

Disruptive, wouldn’t you say?

If you buy apples for your business, what just happened to your business model, much less your future?

If you sell apples, what just happened?

Now let’s look at Apple.

Late last month, the NPD Group announced that iTunes had passed Best Buy and had become the nation’s second largest retailer of music, only eight months after passing Amazon to become #3. That’s music in all forms, CD or otherwise. The only one selling more than iTunes is Wal-Mart, who has to be looking over their shoulder.

Wal-Mart looking over their shoulder. Bet you never thought you’d hear that. Course, neither did Woolworth or Sears.

Disruptive.

Certainly, the music industry has been in turmoil for years because they have their head stuck up where the sun doesn’t shine, but despite all that, think about how disruptive – even to Wal-Mart, Amazon and Best Buy – the iTunes model and implementation has been.

Finally, let’s look at corn.

The ethanol craze has turned farmers to corn (despite the fact that most grains are way up in market price). Despite the fact that other plants have proven to be more productive for ethanol creation, and easier on the farmland than corn, corn is the industry shining star for ethanol production.

Until you realize that this same corn is no longer going overseas to feed third world countries.

Until you realize that other crops are being supplanted (no pun intended) to plant corn – and again, many of those items either go overseas or cause fewer crops of other kinds to be planted, ergo the higher prices for wheat, etc.

Disruptive.

What kind of disruption could totally change your business? And perhaps more importantly, what kind of disruption can you be the architect of in your market?