In 1997, Clayton Christensen published a book titled The Innovator’s Dilemma in which he introduced the concept of disruptive technologies. He posited that big companies fail because they did not implement new ideas and accompanying technologies. More than 20 years later, this is still true. Yet in time, some knowledge workers emerged as disrupters rather than go-along-to-get-along employees.
Disrupters are the kinds of people you want in skunk works and working groups. Having worked for several large companies, those companies that embraced disrupters achieved greater success than companies that marginalized disrupters.
So, do you think you can be a disrupter? Are you someone who enjoys brainstorming and asking what-if questions? Are you OK being a flip-flopper changing your point of view as you gain more data and information on the topic? Most people who work as technologists and scientists are likely to be disrupters. It is their self-selection and training in fields which embrace and really thrive on change, newness, innovation, and solving problems.
There are several valuable rules to follow to effectively participate and run working groups and skunk works. Here are a few of them.
- If you are the facilitator, start and end the meeting on time. It is important to respect everyone’s time. Also, ending the meeting five or more minutes early allows everyone to transition to their next appointment on time. If you are an attendee, arrive on time.
- Keep meetings short, 25 to 50 minutes in length, tightly focused with breaks to think, process, and work.
- Prepare a detailed agenda with minutes allocated to topics and avoid digressions of any sort.
- Speak your mind truthfully, honestly, and fearlessly and encourage others to do the same.
- Respect differences, probe ideas, instill trust.
- Keep in mind that it is a collaborative effort where each voice is equal to others.
- Take notes on paper and leave your phone off or at your desk. Research shows that handwritten notes increase retention of information by over 30%.
- And last, conclude with a summary of the meeting and plans for the next meeting.
I hope these rules help you succeed in being a valuable disrupter for good in your organization
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