I had the opportunity to participate on a panel recently called “Time to Change – Culture and Brand Disruption Leading to Innovation.” It was hosted by Xerox PARC as part of their PARC forum series, and featured Todd Wilms of SAP (@toddmwilms), Michela Stribling of IBM (@mstribling) and Bryan Kramer (@bryankramer) of PureMatter.
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but every time I hear the phrase “Time to Change,” it reminds me of a famous Brady Bunch episode, in which Peter’s voice begins to change, just as the family is about to record the classic “Sunshine Day.”
Poor Peter; he’s so embarrassed. But Peter’s disruption sparks Greg’s idea, which is to write the now-classic “Time to Change,” which celebrates Peter’s challenge and turns it into an opportunity.
So, drawing from both the lofty inspiration from the PARC panel and the more earth-bound lessons of The Brady Bunch, here are five quick points on disruptive innovation:
- Disruption is supposed to be painful. It challenges people, processes and established plans. But that disruption is a signal–like pain is in the body–that we need to attend to the underlying issues.
- It takes time. For example, we expect, less than a decade into social business, that it should be broadly accepted, mature and scalable. But it takes years–decades sometimes–for us to truly understand the characteristics of new technologies and media types; if you doubt this, take a look at this article published last year in MIT Technology Review.
- It requires rigor and discipline. Just because something is new doesn’t mean it requires less rigor to adopt. In many cases, it requires more clarity, as my colleague Charlene Li so clearly stated in Open Leadership. That means bounded experiments with hypotheses, and clear business plans with anticipated returns and outcomes.
- Learning is and should be a desired outcome. The reason trends are disruptive is that we don’t yet know how to unlock their value. How else can we discover that without experimenting and learning from the results? We need to act less like managers and more like scientists.
- Stupid ideas can be brilliant, or inform other, better ones. The US Patent Office is full of failed ideas that became celebrated innovations or provided unexpected insight. A few years ago, Netflix tried to split its business, a wildly unpopular decision. Now they’re creating award-winning programming.
Here’s the video:
For more on the panel, see Michelle Killebrew’s excellent recap in Click Z.
For more on what’s going to disrupt us in 2014, see Charlene’s post on trends to watch.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.