Should You Get Disruptive?

Disruption is not a new buzzword, but it’s still hot on everyone’s lips. Should your business get disruptive? What does it mean? Why should you care?

Have no fear! We’ve got the answers.

Disruptive vs. Innovative.

disruptive lightbulbJust like everyone is an innovator, it seems like everyone is labeling themselves a disruptor these days. These words aren’t necessarily interchangeable.  Forbes’ Caroline Howard says it best, “disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors.”

Coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, disruptive technology, or disruptive innovation, differs from innovation in one distinct way. Traditional innovation sustains current technologies. It might evolve them, but sustainable innovation is predicated on existing markets, products and needs. Disruptive innovation creates brand new markets and new needs.

A Disruptive Example.

Think about it this way: A phone book is traditional. Ads in a phone book are traditional. An online phone book with online ads innovates the phonebook experience.

Google broke the phone book.

Now, thanks to Google’s disruption, we need to worry about SEO, page rankings and Google Adwords. We search through a global sea of information to find exactly what we need. We can think of several other examples of how Google has disrupted the status quo, but the fact that no one uses a phone book anymore, thanks to online search, is a prime example of disruption.

Should You Disrupt?

No one wants to go the way of the Yellow Pages and become irrelevant. So, you definitely want to think about how to keep your customers’ attention.

In fact, the answer to whether or not your business should try disrupting the marketing is all down to your customer. Who are they? What do they need? What do they like? What do they do? What do they watch on TV? Stay people-centric.

Even the smallest idea that serves a niche market can transform into a massive disruption.

A Disruptive Tale.

kindleOnce upon a time there was a man who saw that people loved books. He created a small website with a weird name and sold mostly to rabid book aficionados and university students who needed hard to find books for their senior theses. He also sold popular books and was able to stock far more books than brick and mortar bookstores.

People loved buying books from this little site so much that the man decided to sell videos and music, too. After just 6 years, the man was named person of the year by Time Magazine.  The man did not live in a rich kingdom, in fact, his kingdom was impoverished until 2001 when it finally turned its first profit after nearly 10 years.

What happened to this man and his little site? Well, he’s famous for changing the way we acquire goods (shopping) and knowledge (Kindle)… he’s also put one giant bookseller out of business with another one likely to follow suit soon.  You can now purchase almost anything on and this once humble book retailer is credited with popularizing the online shopping craze.

The moral of this story? Even the smallest of ideas of disrupt the market in the biggest of ways. Do don’t worry about whether or not you should disrupt. Worry about what people need. Focus on the consumer and bringing value to people. Disruption will happen organically from there. Don’t be afraid of your ideas and don’t belittle them. You never know which one will be the next Google or Amazon.

Follow your ideas. Build strategies around them. See where they take you. They might disrupt the world.




Image credit:

Leave a Reply