Disruption & Innovation
We hear so much about workplace harmony, cohesiveness, and all that good stuff about promoting a strong, healthy culture. You know – that axiom about how our staff needs to put a cap on the attitude. Leave it at home. Don’t bring your issues here.
Yes, our organization’s culture, workplace morale, and overarching aura at work is one we should prefer to keep productively positive. However, lack of workplace disruption and a consistent stream of comfy status quo isn’t doing our business any good.
In my line of work, it’s easy to pick these guys out of a crowd.
I was at a conference last week and happened to be chatting with a group of business owners/leaders about how the political front, aligned with how our nation’s economy is impacting business, in general. I’ll call him Tom, for obvious privacy.
After 20+ years in corporate America, Tom decided to take the high road and join the world of entrepreneurs. Granted his transition was about 14 years ago and he’s doing well. He works on larger contracts and has basically cornered the market in his neck of the woods (geographically speaking). It sounds like he works with one or two clients at a time on long-term projects and it keeps him happy. His team is a small one, or so it seems.
He’s aware of the core functions of strategic planning. Yet, there seems to be a gap that he’s not willing – or worse, not interested – in recognizing. The power of positive disruption.
As social psychologists posit, subconscious assumptions will stay that way until they are consciously questioned. From a strategic management perspective, this means that Tom’s mindset is serving him well, for now. He’s not interested in admitting that our contemporary frontier poses threats; that best practices that are currently serving clients well will become obsolete if flexibility doesn’t align. He seems to lack any interest – whatsoever – in admitting that shifts in the workplace invite innovation. My oh my, innovation is such a powerful force.
For Tom to sustain his position as an indispensable strategic asset to clients, patterns are going to have to be disrupted at some point. After all, the external environment is filled with myriads of threats. Competitors usually have a finger on the pulse. When we don’t – they’ve already got a leg up. This was the first thing that crossed my mind when chatting with Tom. The future will arrive whether Tom is ready or not.
When a disruption challenges your team or when an interruption seems a bit too complex – take heed. It may likely be an invitation for innovation.
It all points back to leadership
Lack of disruption and accepting status quo has hurt one-too-many companies. In reviewing investigation reports concerning the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there wasn’t just one, but hundreds of pages specifying multitudes of situations where people had key information, but failed to challenge status quo.
Why? Why did so many people fail to challenge status quo? Why did they fear disrupting the pattern? Where was leadership in all this?