I recently read an article where a senior leader referred to “disruption coming to our industry that we need to prepare for”. The author left a clear impression that her industry needed to prepare for and conquer this disruption for the sake of their own survival. After mulling over the article, I decided that I like the word disruption to describe major change.
It implies urgency.
It implies there will be significant effort to adapt.
It implies that we need to take some deliberate action or we will be left behind or bowled over.
Sometimes the word change connotes “easier, better, improved” without invoking the effort to get those benefits. Individuals and organizations can fall victim to believing the change will happen and the benefits will come, just like the sun will rise and it will set again.
Over the years, I have heard many stakeholders say to me “I love change”….I guess therefore implying they are good at it and this transition should be a piece of cake. Well, as it often turns out, they aren’t that good at it and it is difficult, messy and downright uncomfortable.
Again, why I like the word disruption – it clearly implies a change that will knock you off your game. You will need to adapt to it…not just endure it. I have heard a definition of major versus minor change is when you have to purposefully shift to a new way of doing/thinking/understanding something. It won’t just happen, because it isn’t aligned with your current beliefs, assumptions and biases. That truly is disrupting.
As change practitioners we can learn from the word disruption.
We can build strategies and plans that acknowledge the disturbance, uncomfortableness, and fear. Yes, we need to point to the end state and the benefits the disruption will ultimately bring. No one will argue that a clear vision isn’t important .
But recognizing the other emotions our stakeholders feel, the real impact of the disruption to status quo, will strengthen our ability to deal with the natural resistance they have, and ultimately helps us do what we came here to do: to lead, inspire and support people and organizations through change.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” ~Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady
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