Shaking Things Up: The Art of Disruptive Innovation
July 21, 2015
Old Ways Don’t Open New Doors
If you want to make some Ramos Gin Fizzes, you’re going to have to break a few eggs.
What happens to the gin, to the lime juice, to the egg white, the cream, the sugar, and the orange flower water when you combine them in that cocktail shaker? What happens when you shake vigorously for about 15 seconds and poor them into a frosty 10 oz. highball or collins glass without ice? No longer is the gin just gin. No longer are the other components simple ingredients. They have combined in an entirely new concoction. Well, it’s not really new, because “famed New Orleans barman Henry C. Ramos is said to have invented this rich, potent, and frothy egg white and cream cocktail in the 1880s.”1 But what they were is gone, and a new thing has been created.
The point I’m trying to make is, you have to let go of the way things are, when you start an endeavor, to get them to where you want to be at the end of the day. So it is with good food and good drinks, and so it goes in business as well.
Things are going to change–in your industry and in your business. You can’t remain stagnant. You can’t expect things to stay they way they have been. If you do, you will be disappointed or surprised or blindsided. At some point, you will become obsolete.
Change is the only constant in the universe.
With that in mind, the safest place you can be is ahead of the curve. Predict the changes you can’t control. Roll with the punches. Even better, be the prime mover. Be the person or company that brings innovations to your industry. Be the person who embraces new ideas and new ways of doing things that reshape or create industries.
Making Prime Movements
Your goal should not be to innovate for the purpose of disrupting an industry or a business. Your goal should be to improve how things are done, or to do something that hasn’t been done before without regard for who you’re going to put out of a job or how the industry or business will have to adapt. The assumption is that things are going to have to change, anyway.
That assumption is what causes the paradigm to shift. People tend to assume (wrongly) they can just continue on the way things have been, and it’ll be okay. They forget that past success is not a guarantee of future prosperity. They get complacent and lazy.
To innovate disruptively, you have to identify the assumptions people–even successful people–are making, and challenge them. Question authority. Question the conventional wisdom. Do not do this to be obnoxious or contrarian. Do it to see things in a new light.
Be the kid who’s not afraid to color the sky brown, the trees blue, the grass red.
You can’t get to a new place by taking the same old paths to success. Think differently. Think courageously. Get inspired. Look at things from another angle–your customers’ points of view, your vendors’ or suppliers’ perspectives, or the perspective of someone entirely outside your industry. What about your business doesn’t make sense to them? That’s where you start improving. That’s where you start boldly innovating. Trust me, that will be plenty disruptive.
1 CHOW Editors (Ed.). (2010, May 2). Ramos Gin Fizz Recipe. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.chow.com/recipes/10293-ramos-gin-fizz
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