In Defense of Disruption

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Over the years, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to watch too many large and small organizations at the top of their game suffer. When they side-stepped disruption, they were outflanked by competition free from tradition or routine. Avoiding disruption for the sake of routine or tradition can be poisonous.

One of the least desirable by-products of disruption is the sense of instability and anxiety it creates. On the other hand, lack of disruption, a.k.a. stability, can lull us into a dicey sense of security grounded in routine.

Recognizing the right kind of disruption is challenging. It calls for emotionless objectivity and distance from pressures of the day – things most of us aren’t wired for. It calls for you to stand back and see opportunity hidden by fear of change – another skill we have in short supply.

Some of the most insidious routines are those with roots deeply enmeshed in prior success. Yellow caution lights flash slow down! “That’s the way we’ve always done it. Why should we change now?” Yellow caution lights hide opportunities that lie within.

Yellow becomes red with the familiar, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” or “How can we change something that led to our current success?”

Bob Kilian’s Marketing Law #3, an insightful perception about disruption.

“Every persuasive communication involves an element of disruption.”

The Law is important. Properly used, it consistently captures people’s attention. When you have their attention, people are able to process your messaging, new thoughts and ideas. Repeat that last sentence until its truth sinks into your consciousness. Including an element of disruption in your communications works. Its universality is based on how our brains function.

Your brain, flooded with sensory input, ignores the routine and familiar and defers to what doesn’t fit.

There have always been common practices and traditions that go away. Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of losing so many of them so fast has stolen much of what we’ve become comfortable with, enjoy and depend upon. It’s an endless trembler shaking us from any chance for solid footing.

Is your organization focused on constant improvement or change avoidance? Stasis or growth? Do your employees prefer to spend their days with mindless repetitive work or to be challenged, to learn and grow?

Moral of the Story: People are tired of the Pandemic and becoming complacent. Now is one of those rare opportunities for a little disruption to some things in your organization, improve, and get a jump on the competition. Be bold, be daring, the environment is already filled with risk. I believe now is the time to turn some of that risk into opportunity.

Remember the last time you woke up in the middle of the night thinking of some idea that might be worth trying? What was that idea? What was that problem?

We’ll never stop change, why fight it? Make continuous improvement routine. Make time to think and strategize with key staff and explore the possibilities to avoid unseen problems and take advantage of hidden opportunities. Embracing change shifts focus from the negative, what are we losing, to the positive, what do we stand to gain?

Call to action: Dedicate a notebook, voice recorder, smart phone, anything you can keep at your side or on a bedside table to capture thoughts and ideas when they wake you. Ask yourself what you think about your ideas and problems. Your subconscious will stimulate more of them. In short order you’ll have a long list of potentially game-changing disruptions you can do for your organization.

And now, a bonus topic.

B2B & B2C, the rock-like acronyms I can’t get out of my shoe

I have a problem with B2B & B2C. Maybe my youthful indiscretions destroyed some remote corner of my brain that keeps me from understanding.

If the B’s in B2B stand for business, and the C in B2C stands for consumer, what do you call the transaction where a vendor sells napkins to restaurants?

When I think about selling napkins to restaurants, I don’t see a B2B sale because the napkins aren’t being resold or consumed by the restaurant. It’s not B2C because the consumer isn’t buying them.

I don’t see the economy as B2B and B2C, I see the economy as retail and non-retail. You’re either selling to the end-user which is a consumer, or it’s not retail and your selling to a business even if that business is a consumer.

I want more accurate acronyms.

Which brings me to the reason I added this personal philosophical hairball I have with these two acronyms.

Why is non-retail doing better than retail in this C-19 environment?

In the December issue I will write about why so many people are losing their livelihoods, too many businesses are failing, and still the stock market is approaching all-time highs.

Until then, please be safe.



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