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“How do I become a disruptor?”

Monday, June 20, 2016  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Trudy Bourgeois

People keep talking about being a “creative disruptor.” How do I actually become a disruptor in my work life, day to day?

“Creative disruption” is like other catch phrases or buzzwords — over-used and underutilized. It’s lost its meaning.

But we’re not done with creative disruption yet. Our world — not just corporate America — still desperately needs to be creatively disrupted. And it’s up to us to do it.

Related: Instagram COO: ‘Disrupt Your Career’

Here’s the deal: I believe some of us have forgotten (or maybe we never understood) what creative disruption really is. What it means. What it looks like.

The truth, as I see it, is companies are disappearing in front of our eyes because they lack leaders who are willing to respond to change. Take Blockbuster and Kodak as examples. Both were leaders in their perspective industries at one time and both experienced a dramatic decline. Why? Their leaders lacked a willingness to recognize that the world — and their customers — had changed.

So I am wondering, as you read this right now, when was the last time you pulled over to examine your ability to meet the needs of the people that you serve? If you haven’t maybe you should because here is the reality: You can either disrupt or be disrupted. You can either do it, or it is going to be done to you.

Creative disruption is about identifying patterns we need to proactively break to add more value or to create an opportunity. And to disrupt effectively, we must pay attention to the tea leaves. Let the future — not the past — lead us. We have to be in tune with the audience we serve, the customers we serve, the people we serve.

So how do you disrupt yourself? It may feel uncomfortable, I know, but you must:

  • Develop the discipline of studying your life, your organization and your industry.
  • Closely examine the patterns and models that are enhancing the potential for future success or failure.
  • Find the courage to break the patterns that no longer work.
  • Be willing to test and fail to learn.
  • Determine a disruption outcome. (What are you doing and why you doing it?)
  • Integrate disruption goals as part of the strategic planning process, personally and professionally.

One final important note: Women (and men) must use their power to disrupt cultures, processes and business models. We must step up and lead the change that will create an even playing field. And we must not limit our disruptive behavior to the business world.

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for Workforce Excellence and NEW Executive Leaders Forum conference designer. She is happy to answer your career questions. Please email them to NEW Communications and Engagement Director Barbara Grondin Francella.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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