Friday Five: BE Disruptive

The word ‘disruptive’ carries a lot of baggage. To some, it may be viewed as a positive characteristic or condition, but to others, the characteristic is less than flattering and the condition is avoided at all costs. I hear the term thrown around a lot – and not just amongst the technology and marketing / communications folks, but across the cultural sector where I now work. Just this week, at various talks and meetings I attended or articles I read, I kept a manual count of the times ‘disrupt’ or ‘disruptive’ were mentioned – 57 times (perhaps this is low for the martech/comms sector, but high for cultural sector)! Yet in each of those instances, the speaker or writer did not expand on what it meant to really be disruptive. How might you disrupt? Why do you disrupt? When is the right time to be disruptive? What do you do when thrust into disruption? Case studies often cite the good outcomes of a disruption mindset or condition, but quite often gloss over the bad and the ugly stages of the collateral damage that occurs during disruption.

The recently published book, The Disruption Mindset by Charlene Li answers what is needed to foster, participate, and benefit from having a disruption mindset. I had the pleasure of reading a copy of the book before it launched this week, and I found it the most instructive book on disruption that I have yet to come across. Through a series of stories, Li outlines the characteristics and conditions of and for disruption. Too often, the term ‘disrupt’ is associated with fear of chaos, but what Li has shown through well-researched case studies, is that structure and leadership accompany successful disruptive characteristics and conditions. Each chapter is complete with actionable, pragmatic ways to practice disruption. The featured stories are of some of the large tech organizations we are all familiar with (or think we are), but there are examples of disruption in other sectors that also get their day in the sun. I was pleasantly surprised to read about Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and the chronicles of Max Hollein’s career leading up to his current position as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is often difficult to position stories of disruption within technology organizations to academic or cultural organizations because these sectors find it difficult to relate to stories from Silicon Valley.

Although this is a stand-alone publication, Li builds on previous research. I guarantee that you will have quite the ‘must-read’ list once you complete reading, The Disruption Mindset. This book has earned a spot on my #bookdna list and will most likely be a book I reference often in the months and years to come. I have already purchased copies for my museum teams because the insights closely align with the action research findings from the ‘One by One’ Project.

To get you just as excited as I am about this book, check out this week’s Friday Five list:

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