What Is Disruption?

What Is Disruption?

Those invested in the traditional disruption narrative would have you believe it’s definition is limited to autonomy, electrification, and still undefined pitch words like mobility—a first-world view easily digested in the United States, whose 321 million citizens comprise only 4% of the world population. Throw in similar markets like Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia and we’re still only talking about about 14% of the world’s 7.3 billion people.

For the other 86% of human souls, disruption means other things. In the developing world, its manifestation might take the form of a bicycle. In places like China, it might be having the right to own a car, or a place to park one. In India, where the average wage remains a fraction of those in the first world, it starts with an affordable car that isn’t a complete piece of junk.

—via Alex Roy’s article Why This $4,000 Renault Is as Disruptive as the Tesla Model 3

Disruption looks different (as do most things) based on your cultural context.

In many places in Africa, having steady electricity, internet, and a smartphone charge is important. This then leads to income generating business ideas that don’t involve full-on manual labour—swap digging trenches for building websites.

The thing is, you can’t design disruption into your business (or go after an industry) if you’re trying to force your culture into a context that sees things differently.

It’s more than a square peg into a round hole paradox. It’s more like demanding a German schedule onto a Zimbabwean bus departure. It’ll never work and just leave everyone scratching their heads and irritated with each other.

You can either whine about the clash of cultures. Or you can put your culture on the sideline for a few and enjoy the discovery and bewilderment of diving into another’s context. It’s a fascinating exercise that leads to deeper transformation in the longterm. And that’s the disruption that matters.

To put it bluntly, disrupt your own way of thinking first before you seek to change others.

(photo via un photo)