HERE COMES TROUBLE...
That's what they used to say about me when I was a very little girl and walked into just about any room of adults. I'm not sure why, maybe like most little kids, I had a point of view, was a bit obstreperous (I threw myself down in the middle of a room once and kicked my feet because I'd seen some child star do it in a movie - and just wanted to try it out...) and had a habit of interrupting the conversation with my own irrelevant opinions.
But now, "interrupting" or better, "disrupting" is becoming a game-changing management (and even life) tool. Being the "trouble maker" in an organization, the one who turns the whole proposition upside down, who asks that meddlesome question, "Hey, what do you think would happen if we____?" is not only not being ostracized but is being sought after. "Disruptive Thinking" or "Disruptive Innovation" which one rightly identifies with companies like Apple, Groupon or Foursquare, among others, is also being adopted by more staid companies (and individuals) who are smart enough to know that you can't grow by just making new things that compete with your old things. As Luke Williams who wrote a book called, Disrupt, says, "...when a business makes only incremental changes, they find themselves on a path that gets narrower and narrower. Eventually, they reach the end of the path, and by then, their customers have forsaken them for a new offering that nobody saw coming..."
"Trying it out," (and maybe kicking your feet in the process) is a good thing, not a bad thing. "Be wrong at the start to be right at the end," Williams writes. "Think what no one else is thinking, and do what no one else is doing." Or as Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said, "We do not merely want to be the best of the best. We want to be the only ones who do what we do." I love it.
So what does that mean for us? Well, of course, as usual, it's about letting go. Letting go of insisting that whatever someone - or life - presents us, has to fit with what we already know - or we reject it. To cry,"That's not how we do it!" when the trouble making "disrupter" makes his off the wall pitch, won't lead us to the necessary game-changer but to the inevitable game-ender. And where's the fun in that? What if we think of our businesses and ourselves as (brace yourself) start-ups? What if we rekindle that chutzpah, that "I know what we were...I'm interested in what we could become" attitude, no matter how old our company is or... how old we are? Unthinkable? I don't think so. Remember what one of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins wrote in his infamous book, Jitterbug Perfume: "To achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."
Late last summer, as I walked into a cocktail party, the host said, "Here comes trouble!" Just as I was thinking to myself, “See, kiddo, you still got it...," Jim, my husband, leaned over and said, "He meant me, just for the record..." So listen, next time somebody says, "Here comes trouble!" Make sure they mean you, okay?
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