There is so much talk about disruption these days and typically it has to do with innovation.

A new company or product hits the market and displaces existing market leaders — and even eliminates entire industries over time.

The 12 original components selected by Charles Dow to make up his original Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896 were: American Cotton Oil; American Sugar; American Tobacco; Chicago Gas; Distilling & Cattle Feeding; General Electric Laclede Gas; National Lead; North American; Tennessee Coal & Iron; U.S. Leather Preferred; and U.S. Rubber.

Not one of these companies is on the Dow today and most of them no longer exist.

What they all have in common is they have experienced the effects disruption through innovation.

Disruption is the interruption of process, work flow or sequence. And innovation is a new idea, a modern thought or a better application.

But innovation did not always have this positive connotation. In the early settlement of America, innovation was a negative concept that meant rebellion, revolt or even heresy.

Come to think about it, today, innovation and disruption are good or bad depending on where your business is when it happens.

American Economist Clayton M Christensen said, “Disruption is a process, not an event, and innovations can only be disruptive relative to something else.”

What if the “something else” is underperformance in an area of your business?

Like a pounding drum, each passing day marches a disruptive process closer to your business.

Can you hear the drum?

It’s a subtle change in the order of operations… the elimination of an unnecessary step.

It is the distant drone of shifting markets or the internal silence of a fixed mindset.

Is your business ready for the next big market move?

Markets move fast, and large companies are slow to change, but a small one can spin on a dime.

If you operate a small to medium size company, disruption can be a good thing.

Because what can be disrupted will be disrupted. It is only a matter of time. And there are significant risks if ignored and significant opportunity if embraced.

As American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:

“In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!”


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