disruption_on_paper1So, you’ve read and heard about disruption “this” and “that” and have maybe, like me wondered, what has been disrupted and how exactly.  Apparently there is “the Law of Disruption” – much like Murphy’s Law (more on that later) – and it has to do with the dissemination of change being uneven, that is the ‘analog’ world is not keeping pace with changes in the ‘digital’ world.  Digital changes grow exponentially hence being disruptive to our more contemplative analog world we live in physically that grows incrementally.  A world were our elders do not necessarily understand computers and new technology, where the rest of us who are not born after 2000 sometimes wonder how many new things we will learn, adapt to and unlearn because they were a fad in an effort to keep up and stay relevant, both for our jobs and our children.  

On a recent TED Talk by Simon Sinek on How great Leaders Inspire Action I learned about adaptors, from early adaptors to luddites, also called laggards: non-adaptors who will only buy a touch tone phone when the good old trusty rotary dial simply is no longer being manufactured.  It got a big laugh, but how many people, me included, do we know who feel strongly about something that served them well and they liked and held on until its last dying breath; like my brilliant move to keep both the zip disks AND the zip disk player to access my old data until I realized that none of my new computers featured serial (or was it parallel) ports.  I see my (two) post 2000 born readers scratch their heads!).

Disruption is in its original sense a word with a negative connotation. A disruption – mostly temporary – broke something, be it a phone service, a conversation, or a talk.  Disruptive behavior caused turmoil and disorder.  But today’s disruption has a positive semantic field and is paired with innovation and invention. 

Disrupting the status quo in a particular industry, a technology, or disrupting patterns, indicates out of the box thinking and questioning what is old (as in a few weeks old I’m sure) and no longer relevant.  It indicates a new order, new thinking and a (presumably) better solution to whatever it was that was interrupted, or I should say, disrupted. Interestingly enough the on-line dictionaries have not really caught up to the new(er) use of the word. What is your definition and understanding of disrupt?

Let’s do some disruptive work then, shall we:  first we need a brilliant idea, or nope: that’s step three.  First we need an idea, product or business model that needs some disrupting. Then we need to research what the current way of thinking or doing business is and THEN we get to ask ourselves the always fun question of: “what if?”  And voila, we’ve disrupted.  Easy.

Example: Step 1: Car rentals. Step 2: Travel to see agent, wait in line, fill out paperwork, get car for entire day, fill up car, return car, see agent, get paperwork settled, and travel home. Yikes. Step 3: what if we didn’t need to travel to see an agent, fill out paperwork and what if we only wanted to rent for a few hours? Ha! Zipcar!  

Reboot: Step 1: Video rental. Step 2: see above plus late fees. Step 3: what if the DVD’s where sent to our homes and there were no late fees AND (newer version): we could watch videos and TV shows digitally through a top set box. Voila: Netflix.  You’re with me?

So this is where you send me your brilliant ideas…  And since I promised you more on Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong has already gone wrong, you just haven’t been notified.

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