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Is ‘Disruption’ Just Another Buzzword?

by fatweb
Debra_Buckley

Debra_BuckleyDebra Buckley

CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership.
www.nzimleadership.co.nz
First there was ‘resilience’ and now ‘disruption’ is the new corporate buzzword: but what does it actually mean?
Who is causing the disruption and what are they disrupting?
The term disruption denotes a shift from the norm. We can all relate to disruption in a digital context and many of us have been driven to evolve our organisations to accommodate significant changes in response.
Often people will use terms such as ‘over-turning’ or ‘shaking things up’ to describe what they have identified as their means of finding a solution.
For some organisations those responses come too late, leaving others in control of the outcome through a buy-out, takeover or worst case scenario: bankruptcy.
We could learn a lot from Franz Kafka, the German language novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th century literature, who died in 1924.
One of his famous quotes could provide us with the perfect framework to address disruption. “There are some things which can only be achieved by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.”
Two words stand out: deliberate and opposite. If we are to address a shift from the norm we should ask ourselves ‘Can a small modification really do it – or do we need to ‘rip off the bandage’? and maybe push the team or the organisation in the opposite direction instead.
Personally, I’m all for the latter. True, there is pain – but you’re in pain anyway!
It’s all about breaking an old model or habits and adapting to a new business model or initiative.
But how do you know you’re suffering from disruption? If you are losing market share you are suffering from business disruption.
It’s not a buzzword: it is a real risk to a number of organisations. The trick is to shake things up before it’s too late.
The first step is to identify what is causing the disruption, be it digital, creative or possibly a consequence of innovation… sign-posts, effectively that you can look for and address in your business.
Then you need to be willing to let go of your history, avoid being overly protective of your current business model, and focus on being be agile and – most importantly – listen to your customers.
Taken in the right light, disruption should be viewed as an opportunity to take a deliberate leap in the opposite direction. Disrupt yourself before someone else does.

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