How Important Is It To Be Disruptive?

May 1, 2013 5:47 am

We hear this all the time: we are disrupting the [fill in a vertical of your choice] industry. So we have seen startups trying to disrupt the healthcare industry, the publishing industry and so on. We even have a conference with that name.

But how important is it to be disruptive? Is it a necessary condition for success? Being disruptive – is that overrated?

Examples abound. The scenario where a non-disruptive (facilitative?) idea becomes a commercial success is more common than a disruptive idea becoming a commercial success, across verticals. So why does everyone want to be disruptive?

It boils down to this simple idea: if you try disrupting an industry and you succeed, the results are well worth the risk. Disruptive ideas are not capped by existing industry equations. In a lot of ways, for a truly successful disruptor, the sky is indeed the limit. And that is precisely why the term ‘disruptive’ is popular in the startup world – folks are out to change the world, and not run a lifestyle business.

There is an important lesson there – if you are the kind of person that likes swinging for the fences, go ahead and try to disrupt whole industries. If not, you might be better off trying to identify inefficiencies in a vertical that you know, and fix those inefficiencies profitably. Most of commerce has actually evolved that way.

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1 Comment for “How Important Is It To Be Disruptive?”

  1. Nick

    Being genuinely, intellectually disruptive requires some doing. It definitely does not come to those interested in spending their lives gorging on resources that rightfully belong to others. If a man is not man enough to be disruptive, the rot that was set in by commercially perky whippersnappers will be the cause of the loss of man’s right to live in the consolation that his only raison d’etre is not depleting the earth’s resources.

    But, well, that’s too difficult for the commercially successful to comprehend.

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