In his book “Disruptive Thinking” Bernhard von Mutius summarizes it very nicely: “A ghost is haunting Europe: Disruption.” I often hear at workshops or in consultations that people wish for the great disruption, but at the same time are unsure what exactly they want. Our companies are no longer sure what they really need and what they think they need.
Disruption, a word that is heard again and again at tech and innovation conferences and which has turned our world upside down, at least that’s how it seems. Disruption is often mentioned in the same breath as the startup scene, because the founders have really shaken up some industries; but it is not an exclusive good for the young entrepreneurs. Anyone can be a disruptor, but not every industry and not every company is suited to great, radical innovation.
There is no denying that in a world that is becoming ever faster and more dynamic, a new way of thinking and acting is needed. But I doubt whether this change can always be described as disruption. Not every change has to be “earth-shattering” and “industry disruptive”. There are also the small changes in a company or an industry that can have great significance for the future.
So do we have to look for disruption in our company and be afraid of being overtaken? Some colleagues would certainly say “yes”, but I believe that there is always a need for innovation that suits a company. It needs developments that advance the business model and create real added value for customers or employees.
Should we therefore once again question our thinking. Do we need a business world that is radical, disruptive and different? I think we should rather look at innovations in the same way as some companies and countries are already doing today.
Innovations should not be communicated as radical, disruptive and different. Even though the press and investors love it when start-ups talk like this, it rather frightens the employees of traditional companies who want to break new ground. The words “radical” and “different” are not necessarily the favorites in the ear of the somewhat change-shy employee. So when it comes to change, it is more important to show the added value. To show that it would be “stupid not to use it”.
Then we as entrepreneurs can move forward and are not afraid of the spectre of disruption, but are inspired by a spirit of inspiration and innovation. But that starts with the openness of each and every one of us. We must actively engage with new technologies and see opportunities in processes and aspects that may not initially have anything to do with our core business. We must listen to our employees and identify their daily problems and challenges. We need to go into reflection to learn from the past.
These are the learnings I have made over the past years, which I use in my consulting and which I would like to share with you and you. With openness and a focus on the essentials, we will reach our goals much faster than if we want to lift an industry out of its tracks at all costs.