Short Take – More on Disruption from Deloitte

patterns-of-disruptionThe first in an upcoming series by Deloitte (John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Maggie Wooll, & Andrew de Maar are the authors) on disruption patterns. Provides a nice framework for how companies get displaced, market condition factors and catalysts (their word) for disruption. If you’re into disruption theory, they this is for you.

One of the problems with disruption theory is that (despite Christensen’s protestations) it only describes one perspective on how innovations become adopted and change the world. Some would estimate that disruption theory only accounts for about 20% of the cases. If this is so, they why does it hold such sway?

One reason could be that it appeals to the managerial instincts of today’s executive. Disruption is implicitly viewing the world through an internal lens. Are we the disrupted or the disruptor? Both the subject and object of attention are other competitors – emerging or not. Thus disruption is inherently a defensive perspective and results, more often than not, in defensive and reactive behaviors.

What is left out of this equation is the perspective of the adopter – the individual or organization that is the ultimate cause of transformation. The adopter is not being disrupted, they are being transformed – in their adoption of the new thing and in their adaptation to the new thing with new behaviors. The last thing you want to do is disrupt the adopter – they don’t like it.

More needs to be said about innovation from the adopter transformation perspective but, in the meantime, at least disruption theory is chugging along.

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