Bill Jensen often writes about making work simpler to be more productive and successful, but his latest book says it’s time we harnessed the power of disruption to achieve even more. In this interview with Anita Bruzzese, he talks about the ideas behind “Disrupt! Think Epic, Be Epic: 25 Successful Habits for an Extremely Disruptive World.”
Anita Bruzzese: We often see disruption as something bad, so why do you say that disruption is important if you want to be successful?
Bill Jensen: That’s a great question because it exposes the assumptions we each make about disruptions.
Disruptions are anything that change the course of our daily routines or our lives. They can be either good (birth of a new child, new empowering technology) or bad (global conflicts, economic downturns). Nowadays there’s also a third dimension — it doesn’t matter whether the disruptions are good or bad, there’s just too many of them! You probably encountered a dozen pain-in-the-butt disruptions before you had your first cup of coffee today!
So, wishing that all the disruptions would stop or somehow become manageable simply is not realistic. The amount and intensity of them are only going to increase. Sorry!
What we can do, however, is change our view of disruptions: If they’re going to keep coming at us anyway, we need to get better at embracing them and seeing them as opportunities.
The main takeaway I found is this: Everyone’s job — from the most senior executive to the newest hire — is to figure out how to benefit from, or take advantage of, continuous disarray, disorder and disruption.
We need to change our current view about constant disruptions as being threats to what’s already been planned. Instead, we need to embrace that disorder as new opportunities and understand that every single day is filled with amazing possibilities that we couldn’t have imagined the night before! Constantly adjusting and revising and being flexible and adaptable are the new norms.
AB: You interviewed people for the book that you call “disruptive heroes.” What are a few habits they all seem to have?
BJ: I interviewed 100 great disruptive heroes — all of whom refused to accept the status quo and are actually causing many of the disruptions we each experience. From CEOs like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer; to tech mavens like the founders of StumbleUpon, Flickr, Wikipedia, Meetup and Crowdcast; to Jon Landau, the producer of Titanic and Avatar, two of the highest-grossing films ever; and more.
I found 25 habits that are crucial to success in a disruptive era. Among them:
• Question everything: When everything is changing so much, so fast, we all need to get better at questioning the assumptions and root causes of whatever problems come at us.
• Kill what you cherish most: Each of us must embrace that all our best work is already being disrupted by someone else. So we need to start reinventing every (read more here)-
Interesting. Disruption is always viewed in the negative, but I never considered the notion that it could be positive. And more often than not, it IS positive!
Great article! There are two types of disruptors. Those that disrupt others, and those who disrupt markets or best practices. It's the latter that make waves in their industry and are quick to be promoted.
I've always said that it's better to apologize than ask for permission. That's a disruptor mentality.
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