In the age of just-because-I-can, the notion of “disruption” is endlessly popular. The idea of interrupting or, in fact, stopping an existing practice or system is appealing. It’s a departure from the old adage, “don’t upset the apple cart” disrupting things that are in place just for the sake of…well…disrupting!
Continuing the metaphor…
So there’s apples all over the ground and you walk away triumphantly…a true disruptor!
How did your act of disruption change anything? And if it didn’t, why bother?
The apple cart owner corrals the apples rolling everywhere, polishing them up and rebuilding the pomme-pyramid on the cart….assuming nobody stepped on an apple during the chaos. Is that all you have to feel good about…a moment of chaos quickly corrected? Is disruption just deconstruction and reconstruction?
No, the true power of disruption is the creation of new value. Think about it. Reassembling the apple cart is the logical conclusion of the metaphor, but what’s actually being reassembled is the status quo.
What does new value look like? Well…in the apple cart business:
– a more secure method to display/deliver apples
– a digital apple strategy that doesn’t require carts
– genetically engineering a square apple that doesn’t roll
– expanding offerings to other foods that stack more securely
– creating an activist apple lobby or a political action committee
– crafting and passing legislation protecting the public display of apples
– or, outlawing apples and the carts on which they are displayed
Sound ridiculous, you say? I agree. Causing disruption without creating new value…without improving ways of being and doing…is hollow. It takes little forethought or effort and it leaves a trail of short-term, easily reparable damage.
To effect change, act with intent. Have a vision. Know the next steps to fill the void once you’ve knocked over your apples. Create value that wasn’t there. Work hard within existing systems to ensure that your impact endures.
Don’t short-change your value. Let your legacy be long-lasting and worthwhile.
Disruption isn’t enough.
Walter McKenzie is Senior Director for Constituent Services at ASCD, leading its affiliate, connected community, professional interest community, student chapter and emerging leader programs.