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Disrupt yourself

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Disrupt yourself

Playing safely is not safe in today’s fast-paced competitive business environment. An individual, who seeks to stand out from the mob and practise novelty in highly uncertain business climate, works beyond the limits. Whitney Johnson has used the term “Disruption” – to understand why some individuals succeed in outstanding ways.

The title of the book i.e. “Disrupt yourself” inspires us to make the jump onto new learning curves, innovate, and stay at the top of the game. It shows the inconceivable value of recognizing what you are good at and finding unpredicted ways to use those strengths to the marketplace. The dramatic ‘jumps’ that Johnson encourages us to take truly form the basis of creativity and success.”

“The author has made an attempt to apply the lessons of disruptive innovation to personal growth. She shows us how to pursue roles suited to our own strengths, to follow our own unique and innovative way of thinking and doing – and to significantly increase our efficiency, creativity, and happiness.

Playing safely is not safe in today’s fast-paced competitive business environment. An individual, who seeks to stand out from the mob and practise novelty in highly uncertain business climate, works beyond the limits. Whitney Johnson has used the term “Disruption” – to understand why some individuals succeed in outstanding ways.

The title of the book i.e. “Disrupt yourself” inspires us to make the jump onto new learning curves, innovate, and stay at the top of the game. It shows the inconceivable value of recognizing what you are good at and finding unpredicted ways to use those strengths to the marketplace. The dramatic ‘jumps’ that Johnson encourages us to take truly form the basis of creativity and success.”

“The author has made an attempt to apply the lessons of disruptive innovation to personal growth. She shows us how to pursue roles suited to our own strengths, to follow our own unique and innovative way of thinking and doing – and to significantly increase our efficiency, creativity, and happiness.

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Disrupt yourself

  1. 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book of Whitney Johnson “Disrupt Yourself – By Ramki ramaddster@gmail.comv
  2. 2. About the Author Whitney Johnson is the CEO of boutique consultancy WLJ Advisors and one of the fifty leading business thinkers in the world as named by Thinkers50 – an expert on helping high-growth organizations develop high-growth individuals. Whitney is an award-winning author, world-class keynote speaker, frequent lecturer for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education, and an executive coach and advisor to CEOs.
  3. 3. Prelude Why Disrupt ?  Not everyone has to abandon the traditional path, of course. Certainly if you’re working toward an ambitious and potentially achievable goal, such as managing a division at your firm or winning a C-suite job in your industry, disruption is unnecessary.  You’re pursuing what Christensen calls sustaining innovation: when a company gets better at what it’s already doing and provides more value to existing customers. But if as an individual you’ve reached a plateau or you suspect you won’t be happy at the top rung of the ladder you’re climbing, you should disrupt yourself for the same reasons that companies must.  First and foremost, you need to head off the competition. As you continue to improve along the dimensions of performance that the employment market has historically valued, you risk overshooting demands. What you do reliably, if not brilliantly well, can be done just as effectively by many peers—and perhaps more swiftly and affordably by up-and-comers.
  4. 4. Prelude Why Disrupt ?  Second, consider the greater rewards that disruption may bring. It’s true that disruptive innovation in business tends to start out as a low-cost alternative to existing products or services, and of course you don’t want to embrace a career strategy that reduces your own price point. But when you disrupt yourself, you vector to a new set of metrics.  In some cases, you might initially take a pay cut in return for a steeper trajectory; after all, the endgame of disruption is higher demand for what you produce.  In other cases, you might even boost your pay while still undercutting the competition in your new role, organization, or industry. Remember, too, that when it comes to personal disruption, compensation is not just financial. Psychological and social factors also matter.
  5. 5. Historical Review of Disruptive Innovation -- it’s what... The telephone did to the telegraph The light bulb did to the oil lamp The Model T did to the horse and buggy - and, more recently, What Toyota did to GM What Netflix did to Blockbuster What Airbnb did to hotels
  6. 6. Making Disruption Personal  Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, popularized the idea of “disruptive innovation.” In this paradigm, companies enter a market by selling a product much cheaper than the firms that currently dominate that market and thus turn it topsy-turvy.  “Disruptors” have little power at first. Larger firms don’t regard them as threats and dismiss them, as American automakers once dismissed Toyota.  Those on top don’t defend themselves against or invest in such would-be competitors. Disruptors then embark on a period of intense growth, like America Movil, which went from 1% of the Mexican wireless market to 25% in just five years. As disruptors redefine the playing field, their growth follows a specific pattern – the “S-curve.”  At the start, S-curve growth is slow – nearly invisible. The line of the S- curve is almost horizontal. Then the disruption hits a “tipping point”: Growth explodes and the line shifts to sharply vertical. At “saturation,” when the disruptive competitor has captured 90% of the market, its growth drops again.
  7. 7. Making Disruption Personal  You can use the S-curve as a model of “personal disruption,” as well as a framework for corporate shifts. The S-curve helps explain how your career trajectory sometimes stalls and sometimes markedly twists.  The S-curve model can help you develop a new personal algorithm – “self-disruption.”  The model incorporates what happens neurologically as you learn. Learning follows the S-curve.  You don’t learn the same number of facts each day. During some periods, you “plod along,” not learning anything new.  During other periods, you learn rapidly, building quickly on what you already know. Learning triggers the neurotransmitter dopamine, so you experience pleasure as you soar up the incline of the S-curve.  When the learning curve flattens at the top of the S, your brain releases less dopamine. As you get bored and feel less emotional reward from learning and achievements, you may need to disrupt yourself again.
  8. 8. “When you disrupt, you are walking into the unknown, exposing yourself to the risk of failure.” People see the world through conceptual lenses, or “personal algorithms.” These predictive patterns work well if your actions fit an immediate cause-and-effect pattern, so you know what to do. Deciding how to proceed becomes more difficult when something delays feedback or when growth follows “a nonlinear progression.” Then you need other models, such as the S-curve.
  9. 9. Riding the S-Curve
  10. 10. Seven Steps of Personal Disruption
  11. 11. Step-1 –The Right Risks  The first step in disrupting yourself is to take the right risks.  To distinguish between right and wrong or foolish risks, examine and define “the Job-to-Be-Done.”  To generate an innovation, find a problem your customers need solved. This solution will be partly “functional” – providing goods or services – and partly “emotional” – helping people feel good about your proposal.  “ The more closed your network, the more you hear the same ideas over and again, reaffirming what you already believe , while the more open your network, the more exposed you are to new ideas” .  As you begin your process of career disruption, consider the functional and emotional aspects of your situation.  Make sure you can cover your basic financial needs. Reduce ambiguity and stress by clarifying to whom you answer and how you will get paid.  Payment includes both financial compensation and emotional rewards.
  12. 12. Step-1 –The Right Risks  Consider your relationship to risk and reward. Are you “promotion focused” and motivated by possible rewards? Or are you “prevention focused” and motivated by safety and security? Either will work if you frame risk-taking correctly.  When you have to take a risk, determine if it is a “competitive risk” or a “market risk.” When you take a competitive risk, you know your idea has a market.  You don’t know if you can compete and win. If you know that your innovative idea meets an unmet need, but don’t know if a market exists for it, that’s market risk.  The human brain isn’t comfortable with uncertainty, so people prefer to take competitive risks. Research suggests that market risks are actually “less risky.” When you invest in an innovation that tackles market risk, the rate of potential growth is higher. When choosing a company or a new path, look for a “job no one else can do.”
  13. 13. Step-2 –Unmet Needs  Seek out unmet needs and identify “your distinctive strengths.” Special strengths are your evolutionary advantage, much like birds whose beaks let them eat seeds no other bird can open.  People often misunderstand themselves or take their gifts for granted. To identify your strengths, methodically review your life.  “ Disruptors not only look for unmet needs, they match those needs with their distinctive strengths “  What enabled you to survive tough situations? Did you develop special skills by undergoing those trials?  Which activities make you feel stronger? What sets you apart from others? The exact traits you have that may frustrate other people or make them think you are strange could be your strength.  If people regularly compliment you on an aspect of yourself that you dismiss, that aspect may be your road to disruption. As you find your strengths, apply them where the competition doesn’t and where customers’ needs aren’t being met.
  14. 14. Step-3- Embrace Constraints  To disrupt yourself and create a successful new path, welcome the limitations that help you innovate.  Some of this is simple math. Imagine a life without constraints. You choose every action freely.  At each step, having infinite choices would soon overwhelm you. Constraints push you closer to having to use the scientific method.  That means you test your ideas by changing one variable at a time. That’s a strict constraint and it leads to clear answers. The human brain is bad at multitasking. You function much better when you focus, and constraints support focusing.  You can take the idea of constraints too far. You need resources to innovate.  People functioning under extreme scarcity lose the mental edge creativity demands, yet too much abundance weakens innovation.
  15. 15. Step-3- Embrace Constraints  Consider a “U-curve” to describe the ideal space for innovation. Too few resources produce scant innovation; add more and you enter an ideal range of opportunity. Add too much, and innovation drops off. Being creative about financing projects can power disruption.  “Constraints offer structure that can liberate us from the chaos and disorder of entropy”  Constraints on knowledge can be useful: Newcomers don’t know the rules governing a field, so they try new things despite conventional wisdom. When you encounter constraints, like limited time, don’t just accept them by reducing your ambition.  Shift your mind-set: Become a “transformer,” and find a “workaround.” This often means shifting paths or processes and approaching things differently. To generate this shift, view the situation as a “can-if.” Instead of saying why you can’t do something, identify what you’d need in order to do it. You can do it – if what? Seek support in new places, and charge up your emotions to carry you along.
  16. 16. Step-4- Battle Entitlement  Entitlement can undermine you in an insidious way. To disrupt entitlement, change your culture, Travel. Broaden your network.  Some entitlements are emotional: You like things as they are. If you have money, you feel you deserve it.  If you’re a boss, you may want to run the business as if your employees are your friends rather than your direct reports.  That’s emotional entitlement, and you can forestall it by being grateful. Rather than accepting that you deserve what you have, keep a daily gratitude journal and record three things you feel thankful to have.  “Every time you hop down to a new curve, you have the opportunity to recalibrate the metrics by which you gauge yourself”
  17. 17. Step-4- Battle Entitlement  If you suffer from “intellectual entitlement,” you resist ideas from people you see as beneath you.  This mind-set incorporates fallacies like the confirmation bias – giving more weight to information that confirms what you already believe than to evidence that contradicts your beliefs.  You might dismiss ideas from one group, age or gender because you consider them different or inferior. Instead, seek and listen to “dissenting voices.”  Heed people who are new to your firm or who don’t know your field. Change how you think and speak about your relationships.  Practice being the outside voice; try to make fresh perspectives appealing.
  18. 18. Step-5- Change Directions  Instead of pushing upward on the same career path, move sideways or even down the ladder.  Let your people do the same. They will develop broader skills by rotating through different jobs.  The Tractor Supply chain began in 1938, when market demand for tractor parts was high and constant. Today, the US has fewer farms, and its farmers use more reliable tractors. Tractor Supply’s revenue dropped. The new owners of the company found that “hobby farming” was growing as commercial farming shrank. The store aimed at this new market and now flourishes.  “ Beware the undertow of the status quo- current stakeholders in your life and career Including family may encourage you to just keep doing what you are doing.
  19. 19. Step-5- Change Directions  You have to be in the right stage of your career to change directions. Early in your career is a better time to take sideways steps because you face little risk and have a lot to learn. You also can take risks when you’re senior and already have “a golden parachute.”  When you’re in the middle, people are more likely to ignore or sabotage your attempts at disruption. Before you step back, get ready.  Try something new on a vacation or a sabbatical. Changing positions might be right for you, but still be hard on your ego. You’ll need to “rethink your metrics.” Don’t measure by your previous scale. Accept the standards of your new position.
  20. 20. Step-6- The Value of Failure  Adults praise children for their innate abilities, rather than for the effort they put into mastering a subject.  As an adult, if you think your performance reflects your innate qualities, failure will feel catastrophic to you.  Instead, build a mind-set that rewards effort. Whether you disrupt yourself or an entire market, you’re plunging into the unknown; failure is a possible and likely outcome.  Contemporary culture defines success as coming in first and sees everything else as failure.  This forces everyone to compete for stardom, rather than seeking ways for a team to perform better together.  Don’t let the outside world apply its standards to your efforts. Learn from each failure.
  21. 21. Step-6- The Value of Failure  Learn from each failure. One lesson is learning when to quit. Sometimes failure is a form of feedback telling you that you should be working in another field or taking another approach. Continuing to grind away on goals that don’t work for you will ruin your health.  “Listening to dissenting voices doesn’t happen automatically. It must be practiced. “  If you hesitate to take a specific risk, adapt Toyota’s “five whys” technique.  Ask why five times: Why do you hesitate? Why do you cling to the past?  Why does the current way of doing things seem better? Drill deeper by asking why until you identify a root cause. Changing isn’t only doing something new. Change means risking your identity.
  22. 22. Step-7- Driven by Discovery  Be an explorer. Shift from “conventional planning” to “discovery- driven planning.” In conventional planning, you project the future based on the past.  You assume continuity and similarity. Though this feels familiar and safe, it doesn’t fit true disruption – a path that requires discovery- driven planning.  “ Self-disruption will force you up steep foothills of new information, relationships and systems.”  Consider Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the American West. They left St. Louis on keelboats, but abandoned them when boats no longer fit the waterways.  They hunted for supplies in new regions and traded with the native peoples. They accepted and adapted to changing circumstances.
  23. 23.  In “disruptive innovation,” companies enter a market by selling a product much cheaper than the firms that currently dominate that market, thus turning it topsy-turvy.  Apply disruption innovation at a personal level as you redefine your career path.  Disruptive innovation follows an “S-curve,” with slow growth at first, then explosive growth, then slow growth again.  To disrupt yourself, take “the right risks.”  To generate innovation, find a problem your customers need solved.  Embrace constraints. Limits can help you focus and be creative.  Entitlement blocks innovation. Try to escape “emotional” or “intellectual entitlement.”  Change directions: Step down or move sideways on the career ladder to learn what you need to learn.  You may fail. Learn from failure.  Let an explorer’s sense of discovery drive you. Key Take away…
  24. 24. Mail your comments to ramaddster@gmail.com

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