Becoming a Smart Disrupter

Status quos are made to be broken.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the general comfort people find in living with status quo. It is all around us. In my mind, maintaining the status quo is relatively easy. It is familiar. In most workplaces, maintaining the status quo allows us to carve a relatively secure place in our day to day work. For the most part, we know what is anticipated and what is expected. That said, it my experience, maintaining the status quo can also be a recipe for atrophy and ultimately, a withering of the “edge” we need if we are to solve societal problems.

Changing the status quo means facing the often uncomfortable unknown—or even, quoting Rumsfeld, “the known unknowns”. It most often means intentionally moving into an environment where we are willing to challenge our current competency or understanding of the world. It means being willing to be a force for disruption.

Disrupting the status quo propels us forward –creating an environment where we can innovate and design new products and interventions – untethered by what was. Smart disrupters—in any field improve their products and drive the market demand. The recipe for challenging the status quo and becoming a smart disrupter is to first, recognize the orthodoxies, the patterns, the processes that drive current system design and service delivery and the accompanying outcomes. And then to be willing to ask where within these current processes, can we introduce new ways of thinking, acting and delivering products and services? Or—be willing to create entirely new approaches, processes—driving an entirely different kind of interface between the customer and the service. (Think Uber or Airbnb)

The field of Human Services is ripe for disruption. We have used similar strategies for decades and we all know, in most cases, the needle has not moved. People served are not experiencing profoundly improved outcomes. Effective leveraging of technology, rethinking system design, re-imagining where and how we connect with the consumer—must be part of our future.

By learning how to project market trends through use of data, and effectively leverage emerging technologies and cloud platforms, we can leave status quo behind and effectively take on the role of disrupter.

I welcome your thoughts on this discussion.