Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#13 / In Search Of Disruption

I am on the mailing list for the Steve Blank blog. Blank is an entrepreneur, and a counsellor to entrepreneurs. On December 15th, he suggested a "Blank's Rule," to the effect that "to predict the future 1/3 of you need to be crazy." By "you," he means a "panel of experts," called together to help search for "disruptive and innovative strategies."

Blank's blog tempts me to talk about the mistaken idea that we can ever truly "predict" the future. I have talked about that idea before. However, what I'd like to do, instead, is to comment on the idea that "disruption" is desirable as a basic policy. This does seem to be written into the "rules" that the entrepreneurial set believes should govern their behavior.

May I politely question this concept?

Historically, "disruption" has a negative connotation. Stability and certainty are human values that have long been prized, and for good reason. Nowadays, however, many have come to believe that "innovation," to use one of the other key words that comprise "Blank's Rule," is automatically positive. 

I believe that entrepreneurs are looking for "disruption" and "innovation" not because they believe that disruptive change will always make things better, and be good for the society, but because they believe that disruptive change could be good for them. In other words, if you disrupt the way taxi service has been provided, maybe you can make a huge amount of money, without (yourself) doing any real work. The Uber algorithm makes money for those who own Uber. Query whether it is automatically the best thing for society at large. 

My point: perhaps we should accept and deal with "disruption" when it comes, but not go looking for it, specifically. We should be looking for something "better," not for "disruption" for disruption's sake.

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1 comment:

  1. First of all, predicting the future isn't a mistaken idea, it's the foundational goal of science.

    Second, Blank's rules is about the ratio of different personality types that function well together. His recipe for an innovation task force isn't about disruption for disruption's sake. It's about having a group of people that work well together to accomplish the task of inventing something new that will make their business successful.

    Blank uses the NASA Apollo program as an example. In my opinion, this was a good thing. You bring up Uber as another example. Sure, the Uber algorithm makes money for those who own Uber. Also those who drive for Uber. What's wrong with that? It also facilitates people like me getting someplace without having to take a stinky, over-priced, pain-in-the-ass cab.

    Indeed, nothing is "automatically" good for society. Nobody but ideologues think that. It's important to think critically about new things. But all you've done is ask the question "Is Uber good?" in order to attack Uber without having to defend your position with one iota of actual argument.

    Nothing is "automatically" bad for society, either, Gary.


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