10 Ways to Disrupt Successfully
Embrace the power of disruption or tomorrow will be today, again. More of the same produces more of the same.
All leaders disrupt.
Disruption makes new futures possible. But, disruption “gone wild” destroys your capacity to build the future. Too much disruption irritates and aggravates. People make fun of the “innovation of the day,” for example.
Disruption is destruction.
Create new futures with small disruptions.
- Ask new questions. Try these: Where can our current people take us? How can we help them get there?
- Participate in activities you don’t like. Discomfort disrupts.
- Engage inexperienced people. New eyes enlighten.
- Create new constraints. Boundaries make creativity possible.
- Get people doing rather than talking. Have the corporate team call customers, for example.
- Invite people from different departments to meetings.
- Rearrange conference rooms. But, don’t change configurations every time. You know you’re in trouble when rearranging chairs creates distress.
- Make, “Could we try something different?” a regular occurrence.
- Shadow people who do jobs you don’t understand.
- Do something at a different time of day.
- Stability is essential. All disruption, all the time, paralyzes.
- Disrupt leadership before disrupting entire organizations. Make them feel it first.
- Have everyone’s back. Make it safe to try new things. The moment you punish someone for trying something new is the moment trying new things stop.
- Evaluate after not during. Let things play out. Learn as you go.
- Give “new” time to grow legs. Work it a few times even if it isn’t perfect. Disruption creates and requires imperfection.
Leaders also manage:
Management loves routines for their sameness.
Efficient performance requires patterns.
Systems create stabilizing boundaries – routines – that produce predictable results. Without systems, organizations waste time and squander resources by unnecessarily re-inventing processes and procedures.
Innovation is inefficient at first. Leaders accept, even expect, inefficiency when they disrupt the stats quo.
How can leaders effectively disrupt without mismanaging organizations?
Excellent advice, Dan, but it would have been worthless without the 5 keys to ensuring your disruptions are successful. If I was to be picky (and I guess I am going to be because I’m continuing to type this), I might have titled the blog “10 ways to disrupt, and the 5 keys to ensuring your disruption leads to success” because for me the 5 keys are far more important than the 10 methods of disruption.
Don’t get me wrong, disruption is as important as failure. Often the two will go hand in hand or even appear to be one and the same. As I commented in your post two days ago: “I hear a lot of people in a lot of companies saying we need more innovation and we were better at innovating before. Perhaps the reason for our perceived lack of innovation is just that we don’t want to accept the mistakes, failures, set-backs and other circumstances that stand between us and the innovations we seek.”
Thanks Paul. My take is the part of the post the makes people most uncomfortable is most important for them.
Thanks for jumping in.
My job has me in uncomfortable situations and surroundings quite routinely, so I guess that’s why the 5 keys to success mean so much to me. Things like ensuring some stability, leaders that are actually impacted by disruption, safe environments for the disruption, debriefing afterwards and, of course giving new things time to develop and not switching direction at the first hinder!
The context of successful disruption is stability. Complete disruption is paralyzing chaos.
Love the idea of giving new things time to develop… change for the sake of change isn’t effective.
So glad to read your insights and observations. Cheers
Love this, especially that “New eyes enlighten”. We tend to discount the opinion and input of new hires or younger team members. Input that is not tainted by the status quo or office politics is invaluable. Love the old quote “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” The flaw in this is in the Law of Diminishing Returns.
There’s a productivity and management myth out there. It says do more of what you’ve done and you’ll get more of what you’ve got. “More” is not synonymous with “better”; “more” cannot be equated with growth.
Thanks for the wisdom this morning, Dan!
Hey Justin, actually if what you are doing gets you 10% of the result you are wanting doing a whole lot more if that WILL in fact get you more of what you want, just not as efficiently as you could get more of what you want.
I think what you were getting at is increasing the winning percentage. Working smarter beats working harder YES, but working hard smartly ROCKS!!!!!!
Also outsiders, newcomers almost always have the best insight. They are not blinded by the systems and processes folks tend to get bogged down in.
They are not confined in the box yet. New people, fresh eyes ROCK!
Hope that helps you but what do I know my office only grew 8400% last month.
Highly recommend Bob Chapman. Tedtalk. Free on YouTube. That Dude gets it.
Great insights Justin…love the do more you’ll get more, quote.
I’m so appreciative that you consistently stop in to share your thoughts.
Great stuff Dan!!
Woudnt it be sweet if all the why’s. aka values and beliefs were aligned?
People, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
Best I can say and do is. Do right, serve others like you want them to serve you. Focus more on getting my house in order and less on the shortcomings of others. We experience the world we choose to focus on.
When you know you are right stick to your principles. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
Remember you are not alone even if it seems no one you works with people do. They just might not work at the company you work with.
Take a look at Bob Chapmans tedtalk if you want to see a Leader leading a whole company that gets it. Barry-Wemiller rocks!!
Have a great one Dan, I am!
Always glad to see you Scott… and thanks for extending the conversation.
Have you heard do unto others as they’d have you do unto them? I find that interesting and a bit of a shift from me to them.
That is really interesting and thanks Dan!!!
Funny thing is most people are average, right? Most average people live lives of quiet desperation. I on the other hand am exceptional because I choose to be.
So people are going to get treated a whole lot better by me if I treat them how I would like to treated. Most excellently!
I am a bit of a collector, collect friends and referrals and thank you cards.
You ought to see the collection.
We are rolling out a new technical system right now, and it truly affects the front-line staff. These are hourly positions that struggle with technology.
It wouldn’t be wise for me to evaluate during the first three days of the roll out, would it? Yet, it’s some of the customers (in-house) that we serve that complain the most. It’s new, and it’s new to everyone.
That’s the struggle. Hurry up and wait.
But we’re learning. We’re getting better.
Time will tell.
I hear you Colby… we tend to judge quickly because the old is more comfortable. I wish I had the secret to helping people withhold judgement for a few days… Always a pleasure!
Another thought provoking post. So… how is it balanced? Disruption is important. So is stability. Where is the balance?
I think stability gets the lions share of attention. I wonder, if from an organizational point of view the Pareto principle applies? 80% stability and 20% disruption….
Great question Matt. thanks.
Love the posts and the comments – I learn so much. Bless the colleague who send me this.
if I might jump in here with my 2 cents having tried disruption both with and without stability. My observation is disruption should be controlled and informed risk taking- meaning I back one disruptive idea / factor and apply it in a largely stable environment, inform stakeholder (not always get full but in) – lots of disruption in too many areas makes for too much uncertainty, stress and loss of trust.
Oops for some reason I am showing up as anonymous just wanted to say this is Shubhra here
Oh my gosh I love this: “You know you’re in trouble when rearranging chairs creates distress.” I often go to weekly/regular meetings and sit in a different spot. It amuses/saddens me to see who gets upset when I am in “their” seat. If they are bothered by a different chair, how do they respond to innovative ideas…
LOL… now that’s just mean Lori! 🙂 Thanks for a good chuckle…at something that’s too true to be comfortable. Cheers
LOVE your statement- “You know you are in trouble when moving the chairs causes distress!” This reminds me of a quote from Doug Reeves, “In the tornado of change, even small objects become fatal.” This really underlies the need for support during disruption. Cheers, Dan!
Thanks Andrea…the tornado quote is a great add to the conversation. I included the chair statement to highlight how small things can be useful disruptions. Adding the necessity of support is so helpful…even if the disruption is small… best to you!
I think leaders can distrust effectively without mismanaging organizations by creating hopes. When leaders takes any actions, they should provide some justification to the people around. People should understand at least most of the part while going for disruption. Disruption might fail, when people around do not know or not taken into confidence. It is not enough for leaders to take any decision without consulting or inviting others opinions in the process.
Leaders are free to take their own decisions but they should create the world that others can see it , feel it and imagine it. They should connect with others. In the organizations, dreams are collective. So, all the people in the hierarchy should be in position to explain and understand the purpose behind disruption. When leaders do so, disruption may be successful.
From chaos comes order and vice verse. I use disruption when I am asked to come into a situation where the previous facilitator was a bit lax or else became ill. I usually start by making the team members come together by a general dislike of my tyrannical new methods. This way they become a team. Coming in strong and then lightening up is better than coming in light and trying to get strong in some situations.
Allow the people within your team to express a diferrence of opiniin; as long as its done in tactfulness. It might surprise you.