I recently came back from a conference on woman-owned businesses and entrepreneurs (as a speaker, not a business-owner). There were lots of workshop sessions about marketing, networking, financing, etc., and one thing I heard over and over again was the concept of a “disruptor”.
How do you gain traction in the marketplace? You need to be a disruptor.
How do you differentiate yourself from everyone else who does what you do? You need to be a disruptor.
How do you move your business to the next level? You guessed it, you need to disrupt the status quo.
I heard the concept again while watching coverage of the “March for Our Lives” marches against gun violence that took place on Saturday. The newscasters said (in a positive way) that the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were “disrupting” the status quo thinking about guns in this country. They drew parallels to recently deceased Linda Brown, the disruptor who was at the heart of the push to end segregation in American schools, as well as to all of those disruptors who participated in the Civil Rights marches.
Incremental action can move you forward, but sometimes it takes something disruptive to cause real change.
When it comes to books and reading there have been a number of disruptors. The power driven printing press is one that comes to mind. It allowed books, newspapers, and other printed materials to be reproduced more easily and more cheaply than the old medieval paper presses and increased access, resulting in an expansion of “the reading public.”
Electronic books and self-publishing have both “disrupted” the way books are created, distributed, and consumed. Who could have imagined twenty years ago that it would be possible to carry around hundreds of books on a device the size of a paperback or that it would be possible to self-publish a bestselling book?
Not all disruptions are successful or lasting – what’s new today is old tomorrow – but where would we be without them? Probably not typing this post on a laptop, watching a Netflix movie, or popping down to Starbucks for a latte. Just guessing.
I’ve love to write a story with a character (or group of characters) pursuing a great new disruptive idea. I’ll put that on the list for my next intense brainstorming session.
While I’m mulling over that, do you have a favorite disruptor from the past? What do you think the next disruption heading our way might be?