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Disrupt Much?

Newsletter Feature Articles

Disrupt Much?

Jenn Shallvey

Photo ©Jenn Shallvey 2015

Photo ©Jenn Shallvey 2015

I had to do it. I had to use the buzz word. It is everywhere. I think a day does not go by where I don't hear this word mentioned in a conversation, article online or new story.  I love it. I hate it.

I am not a fan of buzzwords. When you start to see a word make its way into the mainstream you know it has lost it's original meaning and impact.  This word for me has that feeling. Yet it also says something about what is happening in the world of business at the moment.

The word disrupt now dots the landscape well beyond the Silicon Valley start up heartland. From the mouths of politicians to news articles of accounting professionals this word is spreading. Why?

Business is ready for change

The conventional world of business as we know it is ready for change.  New businesses and new ways of doing business are emerging. These entries into the market throw many other businesses into tailspins as they respond with their own ideas of what to do.  At the heart though is an underlying shift from old to new. Whether or not the new is better is not my point. What matters is that disruption is triggering many to revisit the way we work.

So rather than be thought out, explicit and obvious it takes a few 'disruptors' to shake things up. Consider for example the various online freelance and skill based marketplaces. Consider virtual service providers. Consider automation of jobs that used to only be possible by a human being.  Consider 'collaborative consumption' and 'sharing economy' lead business ventures.

Changing expectations

Perhaps a driver may be that new generations want change in the way we work. I am not an expert on generational shifts. But I pay attention. I listen, notice and observe. I am in the middle. I welcome the new coming along and respect the old moving on.  There is a shift underway. For some more traditional folks though holding on to the way things have always been is a strategy.  What speaks more than analysis is whether or not new models are adopted or simply fads.  Time will tell.

Change is inevitable

I also always consider that change in inevitable no matter what you do or where you work. The myth is that the way we do things will stay the same. Sometimes when a new way of doing things stands out it gets attention. When we consciously embrace change then there is opportunity for both innovation and improvement.

Take for example technology. Look at the change in the way business works simply because we added computers, the internet, video conferencing.  The way we communicate is entirely different. Positive on many levels, challenging on others. These changes created impact far beyond what anyone would ever imagine.  For each technological change think of what it took to adapt.

So whilst I don't care for the buzz word I embrace the opportunity created when a business disrupts the way things have always been done. Not so that there are winners or losers but so that there is continuous improvement and innovation. If not for these disruptive trends you would be reading this article in print. Think about that.

And what disruption do I want to see?

I want to see more leaders initiate change in business by asking the tough questions to figure out how business can do good, make a positive difference and contribute beyond generating profit for shareholders. This disruption would be one I welcome and would happily concede the use of a few buzzwords to happen.

So disrupt, disrupt a lot in ways that truly can make a positive difference in the way business works going forward.