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Disrupt Less, Innovate More

A lot of leaders talk about their business or industry being disrupted, and they want to know how to deal with all the 'disruption'. This is the wrong way to look at it.

Disrupt Less, Innovate More Two decades ago, Harvard scholar Clayton ('Clay') Christensen wrote the book 'The Innovator’s Dilemma', in which he coined the term 'disruptive innovation'. Over time, many people have abbreviated this to just 'disruption', but that’s dangerous!

Clay's original idea was about innovation, not disruption. But we've distorted it so much that few people think of innovation when they hear the word 'disruption'.

Disruption is when it happens to you, innovation is when you do it yourself.

Innovation is all about change. Yes, it’s about disruption, but with you in control. In other words, it’s disruption by design.

Innovate from the inside out. You disrupt yourself, but in a positive, progressive way that positions you better for the change happening in the world.

So, as we head into the new year, instead of thinking about disruption, think about innovation and change.

The world has changed - but have you?

Broadly, most organisations go through three phases.

First, you see a problem and notice many people with that problem. In this 'strive' phase, you build an organisation with the skills and resources to solve that problem.

Stage 1: Strive

In the next phase, the world has moved on, and customers face an entirely new set of problems. They expect a completely different set of solutions, and your organisation is no longer relevant. You haven’t become 'dumber', but you have become less relevant. You’re doing all you can just to 'survive'.

Stage 2: Survive

If you do the things you’ve always done, your organisation won’t survive. The organisations that thrive now solve a different set of problems. It doesn’t matter whether these organisations even existed in the 'old' world. In fact, in many cases, it’s an advantage if they didn’t, because they aren’t carrying all the extra baggage that comes with solving the problems of the past.

Stage 3: Thrive

In the past, when the world wasn’t changing as quickly, you had time to adapt, adjust, and evolve your organisation to solve new problems. Now, you need to move much faster - and disrupt yourself or be disrupted.

That means you need new skills

You can’t solve new problems with the same skill set you used to solve old problems. You need new skills, and it’s not difficult to guess what kind of skills you need: collaboration, diversity, independence, flexibility, and so on.

The good news is there are smart, talented people out there with those skills.

The bad news is they have a choice of work.

So, the question is: 'Do they want to work for you?'

That puts the responsibility for success back on you. If you want to thrive, create a better workplace so you can attract - and keep - the best people!

Author Credits

Gihan Perera is a futurist, conference speaker, author and consultant who gives business leaders a glimpse into what's ahead - and how they can become fit for the future. Since 1997, he has worked with business leaders, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and other change agents - helping them with their strategy for thriving in a fast-changing world. Forbes magazine rated him the #5 social media influencer in the world in his area of expertise www.gihanspeaks.com

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