The importance of Disrupting Yourself?

One particular challenge most companies face today is in the area of dealing with change. As people and companies get older, it’s easier for them to come up with a new idea but it’s highly unlikely for them to let go of an old idea that has worked well in the past.

We associate a lot of success today with the idea of disruption whether it’s individual or organizational. Ever since Clayton Christenson coined the word ‘disruptive innovation’ in his 1997 bestseller, ‘The Innovators Dilemma’, many academicians and management consultants have hailed these words to continuously reiterate the need to stay relevant in this ever-changing world.

Disruption is a form of creative destruction that displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and in turn produces something new, more efficient and worthwhile. Disruptors are successful in creating new value and markets that perhaps never existed.

Amidst the high tides of change these days, it’s not only the businesses getting disrupted but also many long revered careers as well. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, the automation of knowledge work will have a $5 trillion to $7 trillion impact on white-collar jobs. Innovations like 3-D printing can threaten 320 million manufacturing jobs. Self-driving cars, robots, trucks, and drones will displace tens of millions workers. As Daniel H Pink has observed in his book ‘The Whole New Mind’, the right brainers who are imaginative, intuitive, empathetic and non-linear thinkers will dominate this conceptual age over taking the rational and analytical left brainers.

Countries and companies have already realized that if they don’t disrupt themselves, someone else will do it for them. Therefore cannibalizing ones own success has become the new mantra for future survival. The biggest mistake companies and people do are always relying on their past success by doing the right things for too long. The truth of the matter is that what has worked in the past may not work well for the future.

The future belongs to those who have the courage to disrupt their own past successes. It belongs to those who can avoid the nostalgia, to step into the unfamiliar breaking the borders of their own comfort zone.

Disruption is an act of reinvention. Disrupting yourself is about reinventing yourself. We all know that, what got us here will not necessarily get us there. Therefore reinvention is about adaptability and agility. It’s about how soon we can upgrade ourselves, and how fast we can act up on an idea with a strong sense of urgency.

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