Inspiring Innovation By Welcoming Disruption

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: January 27, 2015


Innovation and disruption.

To some, these are just another two in a World-Wide-Web-full of marketing jargon. But to others, those who really understand these terms at the root of their meaning and strategic value, innovation and disruption have the potential to take a business from back burner to industry leader rapidly.

Consider this: “The Ford production line was the result of a visit to a Chicago slaughterhouse. Butchers—each skilled at taking one specific cut of meat—would do their work on one carcass after another, brought to them on a line of moving hooks. Literally food for thought.”

“A classic industry-disruptive moment,” according to an article by Forbes. Yet, it happened because someone applied ‘inspired’ thinking to a problem, analyzing it in a new way.

In other words: Innovative thinkers utilized an existing solution to solve a new problem.”

Disruption Does Not Have To Be Negative

Defined as a ‘disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process,’ the word disruption typically travels with negative connotations. However, when spoken of in the context of trying something new and welcoming innovation, disruption drops any historical bias and turns positive.

Often termed appropriately as ‘positive disruption,’ this strategic business approach to defining and solving business problems helps keep top companies leaps and bounds ahead of their competition.

A Need for Agility

So, you understand that true and lasting innovation requires a level of disruption. Now, how to make it happen? Sometimes it’s not possible, nor critical to be strategic around disruption. Often the best ‘disruptions’ and changes in process or product come after the fact or are discovered unplanned.

In fact, many hazard to say ‘of course disruption happens. But can you really make it happen any more than you can make “viral” happen?’

What you can do is create and foster a culture of agility. According to the same article: ‘Innovation and agility are the lifeblood of enterprises in the connected economy. To survive in markets that morph faster than most companies can organize, an enterprise must be able to turn on a dime—and think faster.’

Significantly, agility can be created. If you change the way a company’s internal structures work and communicate with each other, then you can speed things up. Don’t be afraid to develop whole new approaches to solving a particular market problem, think outside the box.

And at the end of the day, whether you subscribe to a ‘Jargon Dictionary’ or not — innovation and disruption are not about semantics, it’s about pushing your boundaries, daring to be different, and expanding your industry into uncharted waters.

Don’t worry about what you call it, just get out there and change the world. Let’s get started!