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Disrupting Disruptiveness

Have you noticed how many business books suddenly have the word ‘disruptive’ in them? Innovation suddenly needs to be disruptive and so does management, leadership and being a CEO. Disruptive is where it’s at right now.

If you look back over your career, how many trends and fads have you seen? Ever tried to count them? Of course if you can remember ‘time and motion study’, and ‘total quality’ then you are no stranger to ‘transformational’ change/leadership/management etc either, and many others.

But this is not a blog on the benefit or otherwise of such trends (because I would always argue that without new thinking we don’t move forward) but more about the trendiness of trends and what it means for the way we run our organisations.

Two things prompted this thought. The first being a conversation today amongst a group of leaders grappling with the difficulties of managing their staff and faced with my challenge to their approaches to leadership. This resulted in someone saying that ‘if the majority of the population are  introverts statistically then why are our organisations urging us to pick up our pace more frantically than ever before instead of slowing things down so that we have time to think?’

This struck me as a great question and apart from ‘look at the style of those in charge’ I was not so sure I had a definitive answer but we had fun exploring ourselves and our impact on staff in the process of searching for clues.

The second was the airport bookshop where ‘disruptive’ jumped out at me from the shelves of the business book section a number of times.

The two things came  together and made me ask myself ‘why do we seem to like trends?’ Everything has to be disruptive (and if you go back in time substitute TQ, EQ, etc etc)’ and ‘why would you want a leadership approach that did not work with the majority of people that you are trying to lead?’

Normally I would draw a conclusion and impart a few words of (hopefully) wisdom for anyone who checks in on these words. But I think if I did I would be adding to the noise of bright ideas thrown out there in the hope that they become the latest in thought leadership.

Instead I’m going to risk everything and ask for the views of others (hoping this does not end up with zero comment because everyone is too busy being disruptive to stop, reflect and share). In the process I hope that we can have fun in the exploration.

So ‘trends and why we seem to need them?’ and ‘why lead in a way that doesn’t work for the majority of your organisation?’

Over to you!


  1. The first step of the journey is to get yourself to be self effacing enough to believe you need to embrace change, in order to enhance your effectiveness within your company or to make yourself more marketable if the challenge you seek is elsewhere. Often, because people don’t like to admit their weaknesses to others, they will seek guidance from experts.
    These ‘experts’ are often espousing simple techniques that, if followed by the student in all they do, will provide the outcome they are seeking.
    Think ‘Unleash the Power Within’ and ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, these books contain powerful techniques and, when these are delivered to a room full of people, the pack mentality is to assume they will work because everyone around you is so enthused.
    The same is true for organisations whose leaders believe they need to go through a change programme to improve culture, performance etc.
    Typically, people looking to lead such changes are so busy that they use tried and trusted paths to find an external solution to the problem and, all too often, they are the ones that, through skilful marketing, occupy a position of strength purely because they are so well known.
    The temptation then is to enable our people to go through a homogenised process to enable them to understand the change they need to make to become the new, improved, them.
    What these trends fail to do is to understand the individual, and the unique set of drivers required to bring out the best in each of them. Individualized performance plans, designed together with the person, can provide a 12 month journey, in a supportive environment, where the person is responsible for their change, and welcomes regular reviews to ensure both parties are meeting their commitments.
    So, IMHO, the trend should not be to look for what everyone else is doing, but to have an embedded, trusted, supportive culture where each of our people knows what they expect of themselves and that they consciously work towards aligned outcomes.

    Comment by Steve Hudgell — September 17, 2016 at 09:00

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