Dancing with Disruption Newsletter: January 2017

Choosing to be the Disruptor or the Disrupted

We believe that, in the Age of Disruption, the “change before you have to” strategy is a better approach than the “change because you have to” tactic. Why not introduce disruption and gain a first-mover advantage versus playing the role of reactive victim?

The Age of Disruption is forcing all of us to get off the fence and make a choice as to whether we’ll move forward as Disruptors, or as the Disrupted. There is no more middle ground.

So, what does it mean to be a Disruptor - either at the individual, team, organizational, or societal levels - in today’s challenging business environment? It means embracing incoming global shockwaves - having the right “attitude” - and possessing aptitude to ride each wave with command, agility, and presence - the right “ability.”

We suggest effective Disruptor’s master four critical competencies that help close the Attitude and Ability Gap:

But mastering these competencies are fools gold if professionals are oblivious to incoming global shockwaves that can produce devastating and disastrous wipeouts. So, how do today’s effective Disruptors unmistakably recognize potential disruptions on the horizon? To understand, let’s liken today’s “big-time disruptors” to the worlds “big-wave surfers.” 

Maverick’s is one of the worlds most famous surf spots. Located just north of Half Moon Bay in Northern California, waves can average between 25-60 feet in peak season. For the 15-20 surfers brave enough to surf on one of the worlds thickest waves, appearing at this legendary surf spot while wearing endorsement surf gear is critical to their popularity and pocket book. 

To ensure they never miss two of the most important surf weeks of the year, big wave surfers listen intently to wave forecasts coming from special devices they carry with them everywhere. These forecasts originate from buoys placed in the Pacific Ocean that send information to meteorologists regarding the size of the swells approaching Northern California. When swells reach a specific size, meteorologists send a Mavericks Alert to the big-wave surfer community. Surfers are often in their wet suits and paddling toward an incoming wave one mile offshore within 48 hours. For them, it’s time to disrupt.

Likewise, Professional Disruptors seem to have their own buoys in place in their competitive oceans and are rarely surprised when disruptions approach. They are voracious readers with influential networks. They are able to formulate strategies to not only survive the global shockwave, but also leverage it for maximum benefit. To even accelerate results.

The world needs more change agents. We read of more signing up every day, even in legacy Rust Belt industries that have seemed impervious to change. 

GM’s current CEO, Mary Barra, seems ready to take on the mantel of a Detroit disruptor. She stated in a recent interview with Business Insider: “We (at GM) are disrupting ourselves. We’re not trying to preserve a model of yesterday.” 

And this brings us to a timeless truth: sometimes disrupting and reinventing ourselves is the first step to disrupting and reinventing our organizations. This is one of many new Age of Disruption laws we are calling Age of Disruption Business Physics that we are beginning to research and compile.

As we launch into a new year, perhaps it’s time for each of us to decide which side of the fence we’ll stake our claim in. Now is the time to choose.