innovation is disruption

“What do the most successful companies do? They innovate. We need to start innovating immediately. Form an innovation committee and get going!”

At least, that’s how I imagine it going at a lot of companies. Everyone is all abuzz about innovation and the need for it, but I’m not convinced they completely understand it. I get the sense that so many think of innovation as more of the same, only better. But it’s not. Innovation is disruption.

Innovation is disruption. It goes against the status quo. It’s not how we do things around here. It’s not the way we always done it. It goes against how the average – normal – company does it.

Innovation = disruption. It causes worry and consternation. People oppose it. It’s change. It’s different. It’s weird. It’s messy. It causes problems.

Innovation is disruption. It takes time for people to try it out, to understand it, to appreciate it. It brings out the naysayers. It causes whining, complaining, screaming, and shouting. Terror and temper tantrums.

Innovation = disruption. It is uncomfortable. It slows things down while people go through the learning curve. It feels unnatural – it’s not what we’re used to.

Innovation is disruption. It’s new. It’s unknown. It’s untested and unproven. It’s value may take years to be understood.

Innovation = disruption. It’s a risk. It may take failure after failure before success. It may not pan out. It may make people look foolish if they support it and no one else does.

Innovation is disruption. It’s being out in a place where no one else is. It might pay off (big) or it might fizzle out. Some ideas are ahead of their time, others are simply different yet not better.

Innovation = disruption. But disruption is not always innovation. Innovation can cause trouble, but not all trouble makers are innovators.

Innovation is disruption. We say we want innovation and then our actions support status quo. We want the (perceived and false) safety of the known with all the wild upside of the new. But when push comes to shove and people start looking for someone to blame, Sameness is the corporate value that gets supported. The manager says, “I want you to take risks, but you better be right.”

Innovation = disruption. It means stepping away from the Known. Innovation ALMOST NEVER COMES FROM EXPERTS. Experts are really good at the Way Things Are and not so good at the Way Things Could Be.

You want innovation? Seek other perspectives. Bust up routines. Stop trying to “innovate” and start looking for better answers. Find solutions that no one else is doing. Create products and services that are better at solving your customer’s problems. Give unexpected value. Show that you have really thought it through.

You want still innovation? Develop an open mind and a thick skin. Poke. Prod. Change. Be Different. Put on your emotional flak jacket and get ready for the hate, the doubt, the ridicule. It just might be worth disrupting things.


  1. Broc,
    there’s a book you should check out – “Surfing the Edge of Chaos”; you would dig it! Innovation thrives in an environment that tolerates and encourages risk, nice post!


Your thoughts? Please leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s