It seems everywhere you go these days people are talking about Disruption as the next big business “thing.” There are packed disruption conferences, disruption books, disruption consultants.
But here is the nagging question I’ve had tumbling through my mind. Is it really possible to be strategic around disruption? Is it possible for disruption to be a plan … or is disruption the explanation of what happened after the fact?
I’ve been conflicted on this because it runs counter to what I’ve learned and experienced. In graduate school I had the amazing experience of classes from Peter Drucker just as he completed his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In my mind this is the finest book on innovation ever written!
Some of main points of the book include:
- Effective innovation is continuous, not disruptive
- Almost all innovation aimed at disruption fails. Let others fail and then pick up their pieces (Apple has been brilliant at this)
- The most effective entrepreneurs manage innovation in a way to minimize exposure and risk.
Obviously these lessons from the master have had a big impact on me. They formed my key approach to innovation for more than a decade. This is why it has been difficult for me to jump on the disruption and Cult of Failure bandwagon. Of course disruption happens. But can you really MAKE it happen any more than you can MAKE “viral” happen?
So it was timely when my friend Billy Mitchell of MLT Creative turned me on to an article in The New Yorker called The Disruption Machine by Jill Lepore. In this brilliant piece Lepore dissects the famous The Innovator’s Dilemma (an argument against continuous improvement) and makes a compelling case against Disruption as a strategy.
This article became the cernterpiece of the latest Marketing Companion podcast between myself and Tom Webster. The synaptic connections were really humming on this one as we debate the idea of Disruption Strategy. I think you’ll love it:
Or click here for episode 27 of The Marketing Companion