Rocking Boats, Disruption, and Entrepreneurs

Who’s the person always rocking the boat in your organization? You know who they are. They ask questions which make you feel uncomfortable. They do their homework. They combine ideas from various disciplines and come up with solutions that don’t even make sense. They think out of the proverbial box. Way, way out of that status quo oasis you call your corporate culture.

They disrupt the norm.

They upset folks.

They are unconventional.

They are comfortable assuming risk.

They play 52-pickup with your ideas, and come up with something that, well, isn’t the way it’s always been done.

They want more: for their technology, for your company, for your sales, for your customers.

They are frustrated by the constraints of their current job. And they are certainly frustrating, from a management perspective, aren’t they?

No one knows what to do with them. They tend to color inside your lines… for a while. Then, ooops! Out they come with yet another disruptive idea.

Maybe you can ignore them. Stop inviting them to meetings. Stop including them in communications. Exclude them so you can revert back to what’s comfortable and supported by your corporate culture.

Otherwise everyone would have to think about their job functionality differently.

Otherwise everyone would have to see their output not as the end of the project but as the starting point for all the possible other projects the work could spawn.

Otherwise everyone would have to work across departmental silos. With everyone else from those “other” departments and disciplines.

Good grief, people might even start collaborating. And then Lord knows where that type of activity would lead?

The top brass might be intrigued with all that cooperation and collaboration. The throughput and output might look different and permit the company to compete in business segments which were “off limits” in the past, because they were outside those comfortable lines of thought demarcation and ideation.

Different types of customers might be attracted by your company’s offerings if there were collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas and concepts from the various in-house departments. You didn’t even realize there were so many in-house departments, did you? I mean, where are all these people coming from? Out of the woodwork?

Your meetings might look different. There would be different expectations about how you might contribute if there was cross-functional input into business and technical development.

This really is making you feel very uncomfortable, isn’t it? The thought of those entrepreneurial types coming out of universities and mixing it up with the folks already working for your organization.

You didn’t even realize that you already had entrepreneurial types working for you. You just thought they didn’t fit into the norm, the status quo. You had branded them as trouble makers.

Now you are seeing where they always were internal entrepreneurs. And they are talking with them, those new university hires. And they are inspiring each other and encouraging folks from the other siloed departments to join in dialogue.

It’s anarchy!

This is getting really uncomfortable. Someone’s got to do something about this so that you know what your role is, each day. So you can produce rote work and get compensated for it. Now they want you to produce a list of possible alternate options from the data you produce, to see how they can re-combine and re-engineer and re-define business development.

Oh no, that’s not what you were hired to do. None of that please. You are doing to dig in and defend the history of your position, your turf, because you’ve always done things this way and it has been just fine, thank you.

You aren’t going to collaborate and cooperate. You’ll wait it out and they’ll give in to the way it’s always been.

Except, for some reason, now you’re considered to be the one disrupting the collaborative disruption.

When and how did you lose control of the status quo?