My relationship with disruption started early – in primary school my parents received report cards with comments like “Anne-Marie is disruptive in class.” Luckily I never really took this in a bad way, you see I was disruptive because I wasn’t a sheep, I had a very different learning style which was more collaborative and learning from others than from learning by rote!
In fact if the teachers bothered to look behind the ‘disruption” they would have been able to harness this “disruptive behaviour” for good, yet they didn’t and I guess they thought this little girl would be put back in her box – that of a dutiful, compliant primary school student. They were wrong!Although my subsequent years were spent playing the game of compliance, I never really fit in, so it came as a surprise to even me, that some 40 years later I would own that word and claim it as a title – my twitter handle is @ChiefDisrupter and my blog disrupter4change. So my journey of disruption began with that seed in the mid to late1970s, a seed that struggled to thrive in the face of limited teachers, and limited structures but somehow this little seed decided that it would learn to thrive in these conditions. I went from “surviving” the term to living it and “thriving”.You see in my 30 odd years of advocacy and work in disadvantage I can promise you the status quo absolutely and passionately has to be disrupted, we as individuals can no longer be complacent and wait for some miracle to happen – it won’t! My life mission, my vocation now is to spread the gospel of disrupting the status quo and innovating our responses to wicked social issues through cross sector and discipline collaboration. My mantra is collaborate or perish, disrupt or see more of the same.
So why does the word disruption have such a negative connotation? I believe the meaning has in fact evolved to be something at times necessary and positive to move forward and to innovate!
The Christensen institute explains the positive side of disruption: “The theory of disruptive innovation was first coined by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen…The theory explains the phenomenon by which an innovation transforms an existing market or sector by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high cost are the status quo. Initially, a disruptive innovation is formed in a niche market that may appear unattractive or inconsequential to industry incumbents, but eventually the new product or idea completely redefines the industry.”
A friend recently tagged me in post of an article in BBC News “Can Soup change the world” which highlighted a movement, in Detroit USA, generated by people to solve social dilemmas (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31594513), a dragon’s den style where people pitch solutions to social problems – music to my ears. You see these folks aren’t waiting for government coffers to stump up the cash for good ideas, they are collectivising efforts and getting the community to sponsor the ideas – innovation is born because as you would guess it’s not the usual suspects coming up with the same old solutions.
Detroit Soup is an innovative crowd-funding dinner which is bringing people together to raise thousands of dollars for community projects in Motor City. Since it launched five years ago, it has helped launch a range of start-ups working in areas such as urban agriculture, social justice and education – projects funded by and for the people. But could this model work in other cities? For the BBC’s A Richer World season, the BBC takes Detroit Soup founder Amy Kaherl to Nepal, to start a new crowd-funding culture Kathmandu-style.
Let me know your views on Disruption firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @ChiefDisrupter