By: Shannon Hughes

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Mar 9, 2017 | Linhart Blog, Our Community

How to Harness the Power of Disruption


Several Linhart PR team members recently had the opportunity to attend the 5th annual WILD Summit, an event put on by the Women’s Council in partnership with the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. The day is an opportunity for women in all stages of their careers to engage on a variety of topics unique to women in the workforce. This year’s focus was change, with keynote speakers and workshop leaders discussing ways to create and implement change, both personally and professionally.

One of the most powerful speakers at the Summit was author and former Wall Street analyst Whitney Johnson. The subject of Johnson’s keynote address was harnessing the power of disruption by taking risks and upending the status quo. Johnson explained how to navigate disruptive innovation. Below are three of her steps required for disruptive innovation that we found most compelling:

Take the right risks

Successful disruptors identify market risk and “play where nobody else is playing.” According to Johnson, innovators disrupt the traditional market by identifying gaps or areas of opportunity within an industry to create something new. It’s exactly what Uber did to the taxi business and Airbnb did to the hotel industry. Johnson believes combining your unique strengths with this idea of “playing where nobody else wants to play” is a recipe for continual growth.

Step down, back or sideways to grow

Johnson compared this step to growing bacteria in petri dishes. While bacteria will steadily grow for a period of time in the original dish, the growth will eventually plateau and require a new dish. Similarly, there may be times that we need to transplant ourselves intellectually to stimulate development. Although it may feel like a step down, back or sideways at the time, it may be necessary to progress and propel yourself forward.

Give failure its due

Disrupting is easier said than done. Change can be scary, especially since it’s often accompanied by failure. However, we should welcome failure because it’s not failure that limits disruption. It’s the shame of failure. To be an agent of disruption, you must first become its subject. Your career can only grow as much as you’re willing to grow, and growth oftentimes comes with some failures along the way.

In the spirit of WILD, we encourage all women in the business world to be disrupters and actively pursue change. Like we learned, life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.


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