Disruption is a trendy word lately. However, historically disruption has had a negative connotation. With a traditional definition of disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity or process,’ how did it take on such a radically different meaning over the past ½ decade?
Like many trends in the United States in the post Steve Jobs world, the word took root in the startup zone of Silicon valley as counter-punch to traditionally obstinate business models(AOL, Blockbuster, Taxi services) and embodied the jarring nature of sudden change toward ‘better’. Much like how the word ‘literal’ was disrupted and now means both ‘literal’ and ‘not literal’, these changes can happen suddenly or gradually like this aforementioned case of language evolution.
Yet in many ways, disruption is a function of transformation introduced via an adrenaline shot, or what I like to refer to as ‘popcorn’ style, of introducing change. Not all of us work in startups or have had the pleasure of seeing what a small group of motivated individuals can accomplish without the traditional shackles of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’. Being on both sides of that fence has allowed me to understand both the functional necessity of disruption while learning the art of gradual change.
It may not always be possible to be disruptive, but almost everyone loves popcorn!
The popcorn style of transformation can start in many ways, but like disruption it ends with a radical shift in style, perception and hopefully (if done correctly) positive results.
Popcorn is simple, easy to digest and comes in many different flavors. It’s a baseline for future additions and everyone can appreciate the minimal impact of a single piece of popcorn. Your transformative idea should be broken into these digestible parts so that the impact remains small in the beginning. It is only after a half bag of popcorn do you begin to realize you aren’t as hungry, perhaps you need a drink or want something else.
Now that we’re all hungry, I suggest you view change as that bag of popcorn and it’s your job as the change agent to distribute the impact accordingly. If you begin with simple stages that when added up equal large impact, you’ve in fact transformed the problem albeit in a less disruptive way.
Popcorn transformation starts with the three M’s
● Motivation—is there a will for change? Is there a process that needs refining, an impact that needs a rethink or an experience that requires a refresh? How will you build the coalition between business, consumers/customers and or leadership to get behind this idea?
● Momentum—once you capture the motivation, how will you continue the momentum? Do you have milestones and action items to propel projects though inevitable challenges? Are you the only one moving that direction or are others behind you?
● Money—arrrghhh, of course there is no money! But what impact will there be? How much revenue can you acquire or how much savings can you generate? When the ‘ask’ for resources is necessary, do you have a business case ready for presentation?
Without the motivation for change, momentum and money are irrelevant. While we all love motivated folks, if you lose momentum an idea will fizzle out like an open can of Coke. And if you have the motivated folks, the momentum behind the idea but aren’t able to ‘show me the money’, then we end up on the wheel of ‘great idea, let’s push it to next year’. We all know what that means.
In order to build your popcorn trail, you must include your three ‘M’s,’ but functionally understand that changing anything in this world takes the tenacity to power through failure, embrace challenges as opportunities and continue to have rose tinted glasses(optimism) no matter what circumstances arise.
Now that you have your three “M’s” as your platform, how do you go about setting your organization/company/boss/position down the path?
This second level comes with three “R’s”
● Respect—if you don’t have the respect of your peers/coworkers, change is a hard proposition due to the uncomfortable nature of the word.
● Relentlessness –If you aren’t willing to work extra hours, put in the extra time needed despite obstacles, your trail will stop before it started.
● Responsive—while YOU may feel change is needed, if you aren’t responsive to your customers/clients/users, you may be on an island sooner than later. The impetus for change is pain and if it isn’t shared by your customers/clients/users, perhaps your need to change is internal vs external.
Once you’ve acquired what the pain point is, who feels it, set your course to impact change in a way that may take extra commitment/hours and earned the respect of those that are needed to employ transformation, you are now ready to begin the journey towards transformation. You just need some popcorn and the will to see this process though.
I wish you well in your transformative efforts and wish you all a happy Monday my fellow change agents! Also, big shout @ Kari Lloyd for her fantastic contributions to this piece.