Chris J Powell

Disruptive Innovation – For YOU!

It is strange that I choose a topic like Disruptive Innovation when today is a day that I would have much rather just remained in bed curled up and enjoying the coolness of the morning air coming in through the window.  After 2 weeks of extreme heat it has been a absolute joy to be able to sleep without the A/C cranked and fans blowing at maximum speed.  But when I was looking for a topic, and leafing through the Harvard Business Review Site for inspiration I came across an interesting article by Whitney Johnson Titled Disrupt Yourself.  With just 36 hours until I officially hit the 40 year mark I was inspired by the thought process that went into both the short article and the accompanying Video.

I was intrigued by this concept of Disruptive Innovation and how something that is typically looked at on a Macro Scale (with things like the iPad’s transformation of technology spending, or NetFlix killing the entire Movie Rental business model) there is something to be said about taking an inward look at how we provide the service to our customers and how being innovative in what and how we do things can be key to our success.

With a milestone birthday so close at hand, the concept of Disruptive Innovation both intrigues me and scares the living crap out of me.  I have officially become one of the old guard within the sales force.  A younger and younger work force is continually refreshing the ranks each with their own preconceived idea of what the world should look like to them.  Fresh faced recent University and College grads looking to make their mark and pad their resume…all at the expense of those around them…okay so that might just be an extremist view and not the reality but this is after all a rant.

So as i took a step back and looked at the full concept of Disruptive Innovation (a term that was coined by Harvard Professor Clayton M. Christensen back in 1995 when describing Disruptive Technologies) I started to see a pattern that my own life experience could give me that no amount of “Book Learning” could provide to my new batch of competitors. defines Disruptive Innovation as:

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

So when I first looked at this definition and how I would apply it moving forward into my career I immediately thought of what I spend each morning doing.  I have radically stepped outside of what most Sales Professionals would ever consider as good practice and focused on building a 24/7 network of connections based not just on the product and services that I sell during my working day…but on the value that I provide in a conversation with me.

I don’t sugar coat what I can or can not do.  I live in an environment where “we can do that” is the norm…even when that is not even remotely possible.  I say “NO” all the time.

In our company meeting yesterday there was a long list of nominees for our monthly prize that goes out to a person who stands head and shoulders above his/her peers by going above and beyond…for living our corporate goals and by bringing value to the interactions with others.  Having worked for this company, I have had the honor of being nominated 8 or 9 times in 40+ months and have won the award once.  I was again nominated by one of my peers, this is a big deal for me…but more importantly it is a big deal for everyone who is always striving to be better than they were yesterday.

I encourage you, regardless of if you are in Sales, IT or HR…heck if you are a line worker at an automotive plant or an administrative professional at a law office…look to the concept of Disruptive Innovation.  How can you set yourself apart from the sea of change that is in front of you?  It is no longer good enough to “ride the wave”…the Tsunami is just too large and your surf board too small…redefine what you do and build the future YOU want.


Chris J Powell


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