Friday, September 11, 2015

Disrupt Yourself

In this week’s episode of The Critical Path, Horace Dediu interviewed Whitney Johnson, the author of the forthcoming book ‘Disrupt Yourself’. She has taken the tenets of disruption innovation theory and attempted to map them to career progression strategies. Which is an interesting exercise.

Her thesis is that in today’s world of work we can no longer rest on our laurels and presume that our current skills and competencies will carry us to the end of our careers. We are all going to have to disrupt ourselves many times throughout the arc of our careers. She outlined seven strategies you can implement to disrupt successfully.

1. Take the right kind of risks 

She identifies two categories of risk. The first is Market Risk, where you innovate within your sector. “Play where no one else is playing.” The second is Competitive Risk, where you innovate against your peers. She observes that while our brains are wired to see Competitive Risk as being less risky than Market Risk, the reverse is actually true.

2. Play to your distinctive strengths 

Transpose your skills into a new environment and propel yourself up the curve.

3. Embrace constraints

Understand that you are going to be constrained along some axis: be it experience, or buy-in, or time, or money. Those people who are most successful moving up the curve often impose constraints on themselves.

4. Battle entitlement 

Do not fall into the trap of intellectual entitlement. If you are set in your ways of thinking about the world, then that makes it far easier for others to disrupt you. It is better to engage with people who disagree with you. Sharpen your arguments and learn more. “Stress yourself with an open mind to make yourself smarter.”

5. Step back

To practice self-disruption, you often need to step back in your career to catapult yourself further up the curve. Having support is critical at this step, so bring those closest to you along on your journey. Consider how you can give those people the confidence they need.

6. Put failure in its place

You can choose whether you view an experience as a failure or a success. Learn to see the process of failure as a process of learning. Humility humble in the face of that is key.

7. Be driven by discovery

Many successful businesses end up in a very different place than where they started from. “We like to think we can see the top of the curve from the bottom of the curve.” You need to be open to discovering our path by course-correcting along the way.

Worth a listen.
The Critical Path 158, ‘Disrupt Yourself with Whitney Johnson’