Disruption in Innovation

Research and Innovation2 Comments

Some of you would have read my previous blog,  Reflecting upon the concept of Innovation, in which I shared some of my thoughts about the origin and definition of the term.  This time, however, I would like to turn my attention to another concept of similar importance, one that is becoming a “must have” ingredient in the recipe for innovation and change.  This term is “disruption”.  I dare to make the assumption that in the last 12 to 18 months you would have attended an event or read something with the word disruption in the title; and there are some good reasons as to why this is happening.  One reason, for example, is that those who are currently working (regardless of discipline or industry) towards creating profound changes and innovation in their work places strongly believe that for innovation to flourish, the ecosystem in where these changes are expected must be “disrupted” in some manner.

However, in my experience, I have come to observe that the word “disrupt” seems to be looked upon with a level of negativism and resistance; and I cannot help but thinking that one of the reasons as to why this might be the case is to do with how disruption as a strategy is being presented to others.  In other words, the benefits that can be generated by allowing disruption to take place are not being conveyed in the best possible manner.  You see, if we were to take the literal definition of disruption as a tenet for innovation, it is then expected that those who we really want to reach out to will run for the hills.  The Online Oxford Dictionaries defines disruption as a:

“Disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process”

People do not like to experience interruptions, we are animals of habits and find it very difficult to break away from the traditional way of doing things, even when confronted with evidence that demonstrate the contrary, hence bypassing the opportunity to innovate.

Disruption is not about:

Cutting out the power and reconnecting it again, waking up in the middle of the night and going back to sleep, resetting your computer and continue working on whatever you were doing! Essentially what I am trying to say is that disruption – in the space of innovation and change- is not about experiencing a halt in the day to day operations and once normalcy is restored to continue on with what you were doing exactly in the same way.

Disruption is about:

Allowing yourself to be rocked by the forces rocking the ship, and in that moment of awareness, to assess the surroundings, to look inwards, reflect on what is happening and hopefully begin to rethink the status quo of things so you can start nourishing the soil where innovation can grow.

For me, innovation would only occur if we allows disruption to change how we think, behave, do business, learn, and go about our day-to-day.

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Kevin Francke
4 years ago

Very interesting!
Just came across this G+ post on ‘Digital Disruption’ that I thught was relevant and interesting:

Spiros Soulis
4 years ago

Thanks Zaina…… my worldview has always been that innovation= disruption the two are synonymous, and even though disruption has been become a bit of a throw away phrase just like innovation if we don’t disrupt, our day to day operations, our group think, our approach to process and systems we will fall into the abyss of “habit” and status quo”. Fortunately or unfortunately as surrounding organisations are taking leaps of faith into the disruptive realm and reaping the rewards (even our colleagues in K-12) Universities are tiptoeing around the edges, testing the water, sticking their heads in the sand and… Read more »