As a disruptive executive coach I am often asked what that entails. I usually give them the high level response that indicates a system may be broken and we need some radical ideas of how to fix it. There may be, however, many reasons or contradictions that seem to stand in the way of resolving the issue. One version of disruptive thinking would be to apply TRIZ to the situation. If we follow the TRIZ idea that someone somewhere has solved the problem in some way before, all we need to do is find that solution then adapt it to our needs and make it a unique solution.
This being said; what is a disruptive thought process and what really needs to take place for a disruptive thought to grow and innovate. Let’s take a look at a few characteristics that need to be part of every disruptive plan. What creates a true WOW factor for you or others? How can we replicate the process for situations where there seems to be no practical answer? What do we look for in the ecosystem matrix?
- A disruptive solution is one which transforms a constraint into a benefit. No matter how irrational the constraint may be there is always a way to transform it, if we can get outside the proverbial box. I agree, the term is over used but in reality it accurately describes the situation where we are facing limitations due to self-imposed walls which create a ”box”. When the walls tumble down and growth begins there is a “WOW” uttered somewhere.
- Disruptive thinking often creates one or more radically new relationships between resources. How many times have we seen a totally unrecognized resource applied to a different use that transforms that output into something different and more useful? It relies on developing new relationships among inputs and outputs. Some of these may not seem to make much sense until we see them in action, the response then becomes one of why not!
- Disruptive thinking often radically modifies the scale of an innovation. Not too many years ago, the idea of vinyl coverings grew from kitchen drawer lining to replacing painting and stenciling on race cars, big rigs even buildings around the world. It became an excellent advertising vehicle for reaching people. This happened because people challenged the concepts, grew the technologies, and expanded the resources and minds resulting in a WOW factor.
- Disruptive thinking may come from simply but radically lowering cost at higher volume. As volume increases in production of a service or product the costs can be leveraged better, resulting in lower costs and possibly increasing volume again. The key here is that one needs to recognize the level where action can affect the item9s). If done correctly this can result in a completely different thought pattern in terms of how a profit can be made. No, this is not a new accounting methodology but rather a way to use growth as a way to innovate. The entire discount retail store concept hinged on this type of disruptive thinking.
- Disruptive thinking sometimes unearths a desire or a market that no-one thought was there. Who knew that people would be so interested in talking with each other in a social network? Facebook’s 1.23 Billion members were unforeseen by anyone and only a few believed in its potential power. Amazon opened new retail mindsets to the point that today 209 Million users purchase products from them. Not long ago, someone developed 3D printers and now people’s minds are beginning to grasp the practical potential that lies in this new technology.
New terms are beginning to break down limitations or constraints in many areas. Graphene, which was isolated in 2004, can be described as a one-atom thick layer of graphite but research is beginning to find some potentially practical uses for some of the end products. We are just beginning to expand the market potential here. The key to this is that none of this would be possible if there was not disruptive thinking taking place.
Is there a disruptive way to look at a big issue or opportunity you face? Can you think disruptively? When you want help, don’t hesitate to contact me at Transformative Leadership Group.