It is unrealistic to expect upside down disruptive innovation in any business. But the absence of disruptive thinking may be dangerous. Both things are not the same.
Disruptive thinking requires a degree of critical thinking, a willingness to challenge the status quo, to challenge default positions. It needs some discipline in the kind of questions you ask, how you reframe problems and how you avoid mind traps that will always show that there is nothing wrong with carrying on doing things as before, particularly if this is successful.
The good news is that both disruptive thinking and critical thinking can be taught. They can be injected in the organization even when this is a ‘traditional’ and perhaps conservative one. When people experiment with some disruptive ideas, they can see the benefits. Often, this is the first pass to getting out of an impasse, a fixed, ‘more of the same’ way of doing things. This is what my team does with our Disruptive Ideas Accelerator. It injects the thinking and facilitates the experiments.
Asking an organization for total disruptive innovation is unrealistic and not very serious. Expecting some disruptive and critical thinking to be injected, is very realistic, very healthy and a leadership imperative today.
Many conferences and events under the banner of Disruptive Innovation, end up with a parade of speakers telling you about Skype (as if you did not know) and then anything that looks like an example of something that turned the market upside down. This is all very well, and perhaps a good learning about the topic. However, not many people in those parades are able to answer the question, ‘so what do I have to do in my organization to get in that league, or even to change gears towards that kind of thinking?’
Most of the answers are behavioural: what you need to do differently, what questions you need to ask. There are also safe experiments that one can try. But Critical Thinking needs to be installed first. If there were pills to induce Critical Thinking they should be put in the water supply of our companies. Unfortunately we are not there yet.
The alternative to organizational status quo is not disruptive innovation. It is Critical Thinking, Disruptive Thinking and Leadership who is forward thinking and courageous enough to experiment.