More disruption, please

Large companies can innovate, but to do so they must consciously remain open to new actors or counterintuitively disrupt existing relationships to force the formation of new ones.
Neil Perkin

More disruptive innovation, please. That’s what I’m hearing increasingly both in clearly, passionately argued commentaries on blogs and in meetings and conversations with clients and peers.

The rising waters of the Great Disruption of the web, the connected world, is closing in on people, institutions and business models that thought they could get away with a bit of incremental innovation. Some digital this and innovation that, a tinker with the business plan and a Chief Blah Officer to show action and determination.

The smartest people I’m talking to these days are the ones pressing hardest for radical change. Backing their insight with investment, determination and open, can-do strategies. Increasingly, you want them to be the only people you are talking to, otherwise you’ll down with the listing vessels of the incrementalists. There’s no time left for half-measures and dippings of the metaphorical toes.

This isn’t a client-side thing – it’s an everyone, everywhere thing. Agencies should shudder when they are described by CEOs as “obstructionists”.

Throw caution aside. Embrace complexity and uncertainty. Dive in, or atrophy into irrelevance.

There’s more to say on this, I know. I’ll get round to saying it soon.

6 responses to “More disruption, please”

  1. I saw someone describe their job as “boat rocker” the other day and thought that it’s about the only job I’d be interested in applying for these days!

  2. Love that as a job description!

  3. Disruption is against human nature. One must consciously pursue it. But we need to practice disruption in our lives to challenge embedded cultural norms. For example, we won’t meet the demand of the STEM careers coming down the pike unless we get used to women in those career paths. I wrote up some simple steps to get our minds into “disruption” mode. Disruption takes up “bandwidth” (willpower or executive functioning), so it’s best to disrupt your mind in the mornings or after you get up. (This bandwidth expenditure may also be the reason why some CEOs are too burdened to innovate.)

  4. Oh definitely!

  5. Really interesting points, and thank you for the link.

    Interestingly, this came up in a workshop run by Caroline Webb this week, about using cognitive science to help us in our daily work. She talked about how we always value what we have more than what we could have – and we value things we think we own more than other things. For instance, in an experiment two groups were given a lottery ticket – the first was randomly generated and the other’s numbers were picked by the members of that group. Statistically, both tickets were equally likely to win and therefore of the same value (in fact I think chosen numbers are less valuable – as people gravitate to lower numbers like birthdays and lucky numbers which makes win split with others more likely, but that’s by the by). The two groups were then made offers to buy their tickets – those who had chosen their numbers valued their ticket far higher than the group with the random set.

    This fear of disruption is also connected with status quo bias (or perhaps these two effects are the same thing)

  6. It most definitely has to do with status quo bias. It’s the preference with “sticking with the monster you know rather than the one you don’t.” Good call.

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