What is 'Dirspution' for you?


'Disruption' is a very popular term at the moment in many business areas. Given the global strategy remit of this executive panel and to set its agenda going foward, how would you describe disruption, in few words?

Global Strategy
Change Leadership
Marcella B
37 months ago

5 answers


I am more on digital so I will quickly reply on this. Digital disruption is about how technology transform industries and how the leadership is on it. It has a big impact on the previous business models and could have a quick impression on these. It has an important impact on consumers expectations and requests. It could suddenly provide with new opportunities (or threats) and you need to be prompt in taking (or tackling) these.

Paolo Beffagnotti
37 months ago

For me, disruption is the effect of invention.
(I would say that, I'm an inventor)
A creative act with a destructive effect.
The basis of Joe Schumpeter's theory of Austrian Economics, 'Creative destruction' is the perpetual change upon which economies are built.
Even if you go back to Adam Smith, the very point of capitalism, the creation of capital, was to reinvest in improved systems, a constant commitment to reinvention.
To that end, disruption can be seen as a positive pursuit. But it is always best to be the disruptor rather than the disrupted.

Disruption is not something you adapt to by following the flock - they sell online, so I'll sell online - it is something that fundamentally shifts the behaviour of people.
The smartphone was a disruptive technology, the electric car is not.
The system of a car still performs the 'job' (see Clay Christensen's job theory) that the car is designed to do.
However, if you make car engines, the electric engine is a disruptive technology.

I'm being quite prescriptive here, but I think it's important to understand what the word really means.
We talk a lot about innovation too, but innovation is about improving the component parts of a system (see Russ Ackoff's work) whereas invention is about designing new systems.

Great question by the way.

Don Smith
37 months ago
Thx Don, I agree with you about the importance of understanding what the term really means. I have been exposed a lot to a misusage of the same in too many occasion.... - Marcella 37 months ago

Without getting into nuance, disruption is providing customers with an appealing, differentiated value offering that can't be easily matched by incumbents. It is determined more by the business model than by the technology employed to deliver it.

Michael Fruhling
37 months ago

“Disruption” is in fashion today, to stop the current and give opportunity to the new. Disruption does not automatically mean that something will be implemented, but that a break can be used to think about the status quo and potential alternatives. A new decision making process will choose between continuing on the known path or change to a new one.

For an individual regular disruptions are required to avoid a “tunnel vision” and related behavior risks. In our modern times it gets more and more complicated to get a break, as thanks to connected smart devices employees read and answer their emails not only inside their regular working hours, but also before and after, including on week-ends and holidays. Even the classic TV-evening does not give the required escape, as tablet and smart phones became a regular “second screen” to switch the eyes between TV and computer.

Patrick Henz
37 months ago

First of all, I love how everyone runs with Disruption, even when it's spelled wrong in the Subject line. ;-)

Disruption is just that - it's game-changing! It's not just incrementally improving an existing process or product, it's a complete alteration that delivers efficiency & effectiveness previously unimaginable.

Michael Kotowski
36 months ago

Have some input?