For the context of this book, a disruption occurs when human motivation embraces new technology and allows it to enhance and expand the experience of everyday life. In this definition, the disruptor is the technology, while disruption is the human being engaged in a new behaviour. People's acceptance and appropriation of new technologies creates a business disruption, which changes, interrupts, transitions, and eventually transforms people's habitual way of doing things. This book provides a structural understanding of how disruption is so different from regular change and offers methods for conceptualizing beneficial responses into products, services, or experiences.
Disruption studies are distinct from other research fields such as technological innovation because disruption is a category of knowledge, as argued in this book. A philosopher seeks knowledge, and knowledge is essential for understanding disruption. Knowledge about disruption is not about knowing what happens but more about how it happens. The core challenge of disruption is the essential questions we need to ask in every situation and why we need to ask them. When looking at disruption from a philosophical perspective, we can begin to formulate a set of testable principles of disruption.
Two critical phases are described in this book to prepare for rapid responses to disruptors that lead to societal disruptions: the first is the transition phase, the immediate changes brought about by a radical new idea fundamentally altering our relationships. The second is the transformative change phase- using that radical new idea to establish and sustain an entirely new organization or system.
By investigating and describing these transitions and transformations, this book provides a framework for measuring, planning, and changing how organizations are run and the activity they support and provides processes for understanding and translating conceptualization into action. EXCERPT from Chapter 1.1 Understanding DisruptionTHE GREAT DISRUPTOR
When the disruptor
is a technology - as opposed to a natural event - the disruption
is not. The disruption is always manifesting at the behavioural level of everyday life, culture, and society, transforming how people accomplish tasks and fundamentally challenging the very structures upon which economic activity is based. These include:
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- Interactions of various non-economic cultural variables form every human culture.
- The disruption in a relationship that occurs when one non-economic cultural variable is disrupted and replaced with another non-economic variable by technological means.
- Or when the disruption is the basis of the change in behaviour.
Let us take technology seriously as a disruptor. We must also take it seriously as a disruption because of its power to alter how we relate to nature and ourselves. The great disruptor, which shifts the paradigm of human existence, is technology-aided or modified behavior. Why does this matter?
Technology is the amorphous entity that is present everywhere around us. It is all around us informing and continuously transforming a new human condition, and now has an increasingly profound effect on our changing relationship to nature. Technology makes a deep-seated impact on how our perception of nature is transformed by the expanding technologies that interconnect humanity and nature, enabling us to achieve seemingly impossible feats.
Our perspective of nature has changed, and we are only just starting to come to grips with the implications of this transformation. This shifts how we manage land, labour, and the services required to run the planet's machinery. Without technology, in a hierarchical, more highly defined sense, we would have been living a different life altogether than the one we have today. It would have been a life driven entirely by nature and not the quirks of human will. If we did not build the authority to do this – to modify nature as much as possible and conform it to our will - we would not exist.
In Ancient Greek mythology, Gaia was the woman in charge of the Earth. While today we understand Gaia to be the collective identity of all life on Earth, in a society steeped in traditional thought, Gaia was indeed the soul of the human world.
Our entire idea of nature's omnipotence was seemingly based upon this relationship to nature. From the beginning of time, we knew that the elements of Earth – its soil, mountains, rivers, clouds, starry skies, and the weather – formed the basis of all that life on Earth contained. We also knew that this material world was interwoven with many invisible realms of nature beyond the grasp of human consciousness.
This knowledge is no longer doubted. Instead, it is used to support radically different ideas of nature; technology has changed our understanding of nature from an inanimate, inert being into a living, dynamic entity.
Our relationship to the environment has also changed because of this awareness of nature as living, integral and interconnected. Humans no longer see nature and ourselves as separate entities.
The social domain of our lives is no longer based on a dichotomy between nature and humanity. Instead, it is shaped and influenced by a far more dynamic and alive relationship. Under this new paradigm of nature, the formal political and economic roles we have created for ourselves through human ingenuity and labour no longer serve us. We are now in the grip of a technology-generated oligarchy, in which it is us, and only us, who rule the planet, and we need to learn to see this new world of interdependence in the same way we see our great aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
The new knowledge that nature and all life are integral to each other, while at the same time, unique and non-distinct, is not something that can be assimilated and controlled with technology alone. We need understanding and a new or possibly renewed philosophy of life, one that integrates any upcoming disruptors with joy and competence by understanding the permanence of disruption as we understand water or the wind.
This transformation requires humility, willingness to change, listening skills, empathy, creativity, open-mindedness, and constant learning.