By any measure, these are challenging times for senior living operators. COVID-19 certainly has taken a toll on staffing, occupancy and many a bottom line.

But there is arguably an even more challenging development taking place in this sector: disruption. If it seems to be happening in almost every part of senior living, that’s because, well, it is.

New services are emerging. New competitors are arriving. Old assumptions are being chucked aside (remember when senior living was almost exclusively a private-pay business?).

In and of itself, disruption is not necessarily a bad thing. It fuels innovation and, often, change for the better. But as an industry veteran once told me, people talk about the need to change, but nobody really wants to.

So what’s an operator to do? Fight disruption by causing more even disruption? As Julian Birkinshaw writes in the January/February issue of Harvard Business Review, that may not be your best option. He offers three alternatives that may work out better:

  • Double down on existing strengths (as Disney did);
  • Retrench to ensure survival (as many banks are now doing); or
  • Move into new opportunities (as Fuji did).

You can see the full article here.

To be sure, each option carries possible rewards and risks. Frankly, what’s best for your organization is going to take some serious thinking and, perhaps, no small amount of soul searching.

But in the end, one of Birkinshaw’s alternatives may be preferable to simply fighting fire with more fire. It also may reduce the odds your organization will get burned.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care.