Innovation is a pretty sexy topic these days but the sexiest, edgiest most-zeitgeisty innovation of all is Disruptive Innovation; the kind that says ‘to hell with convention, let’s blow it all up and start fresh’.
YEAH! WOO! SMASH THE PARADIGM!! TEAR DOWN THE…
errr, hang on.
Clearly, all innovation requires some degree of disruption; you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg. But getting all excited about disruption as an end in itself might lead us to forget about the omelette and demolish the kitchen instead.
(History is filled with revolutionaries who destroyed key infrastructure in their bid to overthrow the old order and usher in the new one… only to discover how much they needed everything they just blew up.)
For any new idea to work it has to plug into an existing system of some kind, at least in the beginning; even if its ultimate goal is to replace that system it’s going to need to be financed and powered somehow in the meantime, right?
An overemphasis on disruption devalues elegant, simple ideas that deliver great gain for little pain (what we used to call ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ back in the 80’s). It discourages clever people who worry their ideas simply aren’t ‘disruptive enough’ and scares the bejeesus out of the rest of us.
Our world is in desperate need of fundamental change, so by all means disrupt whatever is obsolete, irrelevant, unsustainable or just plain dumb.
Just try not to blow up anything you might have to rebuild later on.