To the victor go the spoils. And also the narrative. The losing side doesn’t get to craft that. History belongs to the person that writes it.
That’s what makes disruption so fascinating.
Disruption is the one thing that can reset the game and give the underdog a chance.
Traditionally PR has tried to control the message:
We no longer live in an era where control is possible.
Disruption has always been at the heart of progress and growth.
Anything significantly new by definition disrupts the old.
When Galileo walked the earth, disruptors were fewer and farther between.
Now, they are all around us. Sometimes they are us.
Disruption is the new normal:
It is made possible and even necessary by technology and shepherded by an emerging generation of digital natives who have never known a world without it.
Old business models have left them out in the cold and in debt from student loans.
Necessity is the mother of invention:
And also disruption.
When no one invites you to play in the sand box, if you’re smart, you go build your own.
And maybe a really nice playground to go with it that makes the one you were excluded from look really shabby by comparison.
Disruption isn’t always popular at first:
The deck is stacked against the disruptor as established businesses try and block it with laws, lobbyists and associations.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Disruption topples icons:
Routines, beliefs and leaders are swept aside for others offering new visions of the world. The vested powers of the old world usually try desperately to hold onto a world that no longer is.
Disruption is not easy:
But it is inevitable in every industry. Especially now that the world moves at such an accelerated pace.
The average life of a multi-national Fortune 500 company is only 40 years. The average business survives just over 10 years.
If you are the disruptor, the existing powers will do everything to undermine your confidence. If they notice you, it means you are enough of a contender to be a threat.
If you are the established player at risk of being disrupted, disrupt yourself.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Look at the pieces of your company that aren’t working for you – the common complaints you get, the image or reputation you wish you could change, the recurring problems you work so hard to message yourself out of — and seek new ways to actually solve those problems.
- Borrow a page from the wonderful Frank Eliason and start an internal newsletter that captures everything being said about your brand across all channels and publish it regularly without editing or comment. Letting recurring issues speak for themselves have a tendency of encouraging self correction./li>
- Put together teams from different parts of the company who rarely or never work together and ask them as a team to come up with some untried solutions to a nagging problem.
- look for strategic collaborations with organizations and groups that think and work very differently from your own.
- reward people who speak up against the status quo.
- set aside a budget to try ideas that are risky enough they stand just as good a chance of failing as working.
The object of course isn’t to court failure but to nurture success. And the only thing standing in your way might just be allegiance to doing everything the way it has always been done just because.