Draft 1- A work in progress
Time and time again, technological innovation brought about behavioral disruption, and the real challenge in understanding disruption and disruptors takes place at the level of philosophy. Disruption affects us at the philosophical level because it challenges and questions all reason and redefines what reason is now
. Disruption demands Strategy. This is what leadership must be about in times of disruption: understanding the philosophical implications of relevant disruptors by understanding their core nature.
The classic philosophical paradigm is that of a problem to be solved. The problem needs to be solved because a specific goal is sought to be achieved. A philosophy problem aims to answer how we can reach some goal. Whether such goals relate to finding solutions to problems at an individual level, or to tackle major issues for society. For example, the philosophy of technology is that of whether our brains can evolve in real time to meet the rapidly evolving need to implement technologically driven innovation. But if we accept this notion of philosophy as a problem-solving discipline, the challenges will then come. It may be that the best way to test a good philosophical thesis is to write a solution to it, but when there is no long-term and time-bound deadline, how can we answer the challenge? This is why leadership – in companies, organizations, and society – is so important.
DISRUPTION IS A CATEGORY OF KNOWLEDGE
To survive the onslaught of technological disruption, we need to develop a philosophy of disruption.
Philosophy can help us to understand disruption because, unlike technology, disruption is a category of knowledge
. A philosopher seeks knowledge; the objective of the discipline is knowledge. And knowledge is an essential concept for understanding disruption. While we can clearly differentiate between technology and philosophy, that of disruption is not that of knowing about what happens, but more of how it happens. How is disruption so different from regular change? Because disruption can have effects that are clearly not intended.
Disruption is often identified with major technological innovation. But disruption goes beyond the existence of new technical technologies. Disruption can happen in many forms – major organizational transformation, competition, and/or challenges to the status quo – and it is important to understand how these forms of disruption develop, so that we can prepare ourselves and our organizations for them. However, disruption also can happen at many other levels: social, political, cultural, religious, psychological, economic, and educational.
And disruption at these levels can create a ripple effect that touches all of us.
The issue at the philosophical level is not about the "objective" of disruption – what will be the result, and what effects this will have on human beings. If that were the issue, many if not all the major scientific discoveries that have changed our world view, or the many cultural innovations that have brought about unexpected changes to our world, would not have happened. This is because an "objective" view of disruption means, for example, an appeal to a goal for society, or a technological approach to achieving such a goal. The objective, however, is not the problem; instead, the core challenge of disruption is why these are important questions, and why we need to ask them.
When an innovation emerges and is embedded within our technological knowledge, we can define it and study it as if we had scientific answers. The latest smartphone, the car, the aeroplane, the computer, and all the other technological innovations that we are familiar with, are now integrated into our understanding of our world and how it works. We have knowledge, methods, and ways of achieving the objective, and this is what defines our ability to innovate and create.
On the other hand, disruption requires a very different understanding, because disruption is based on a very different set of assumptions. It does not come with an objective of our future goal; instead, the disruption is based on the questions it raises, which sometimes are thought to be contradictory – who needs to change, how, and why? How will the organization structure be different, and will the individuals have to change too? As a philosopher, I can ask, "Why? What is the objective, and who is the beneficiary?" But the answers we get from technology experts will not be objective because these answers are based on the assumptions that exist in a particular context and in the context of an innovation.
Disruption is often imagined as something that comes about from a technological breakthrough – an innovation that suddenly changes our lives, our thinking, our beliefs, and thus, the world around us. Sometimes, however, we do not need to look far to see the possible impact of an innovation, even if it is not the type of innovation described above. For example, there was no significant impact of the social media sites when they first appeared, and this did not seem to cause a major disruption. Then, suddenly, in 2014, the degree of disruption was seen to have multiplied – and the question was how this might impact us, and how we might develop a culture that could successfully deal with these changes. What we were facing was not technology, but the impact of a new culture.
In reality, technology alone cannot be a focus of disruption. Instead, it should be an underlying component of the disruption that we see. When we have something that is new and different, and when we don't know how to deal with it, we may look to innovation and innovative ideas. But innovation is only one tool of disruption.
Other tools include:
• Change in the nature of relationships.
• Change in who, what, and where a person is;
• Change in the knowledge that we have about the world;
• Change in our access to and control over the environment; and
• Change in how we communicate.
Over the past 100 years, these changes in our world have been and are increasingly profound, but these are only some of the key ones.
The crucial point, however, is that it is disruptive because it is based on a very different set of assumptions that have been formed. These assumptions are often not based on scientific or technological knowledge but have roots in our ideas and perceptions of the world. This leads us to wonder – who is going to benefit from what is being changed? Who is losing out, and what will be the consequences? By understanding these challenges, we can have a perspective on the impact of disruption. THE PHILOSOPHY OF DISCOVERY
I mentioned earlier the need to develop a philosophy of disruption because disruption is a category of knowledge. The study of technology is different from philosophy. Technology has its own philosophical landscape and as such, is a separate category from philosophy. The experience of technological disruption
is profoundly different from the experience of discovering new technology
. Hence, disruption and the experience of discovering a new technology are different phenomena. As such, disruption may need to be studied in its own right to understand the philosophy of discovery
in connection with disruption.
As a category of knowledge, disruption studies are distinct from other related fields of research such as technological innovation, cybernetic biology, evolutionary psychology, biotechnology, etc. The conceptual framework of disruption relates to the historic development of techniques for communication, computation, and visualization. To understand this framework, it is important to understand how certain modern technologies, the Internet and modern media in particular, function in each and every case. A critical aspect of disruption is the shift from discovery and interaction
between two groups of people, to the acceleration of a channel for interaction between a very large number of people.
We can recognize a disruption in the tools of science, the medium of communication and the organizational practices of human organizations. The technologies of discovery, tool making, and organization all had great potential to improve human lives and society. It is in this sense that science was conceived as a socially responsible enterprise and promoted the role of the human being as the measure of progress.
The constraints of a social and political perspective, especially political egalitarianism, restricted science's role to the development of technology. Disturbances in communication, such as the Gutenberg press, the Reformation, and the industrial revolution, always led to significant disruptions in people's lives. The social and political sphere of transformation is severely limited by political limitations. The developing fields of knowledge were mostly limited by the constraints of a social worldview which presupposed that humanity would always be the best judge of what should be believed and the standard by which others should be judged. This model of knowledge organization restricted the role of science and prevented it from becoming an institution of social change. It limits the practice of disruption and selects only those phenomena that will reinforce existing social structures rather than questioning them.
Not until the development of mass communication were scientists able to create new communication technologies that could revolutionize the nature of human interactions with society and human actions in society. Gutenberg's invention of the printing press and the Reformation triggered a series of revolutions in culture and society. But at the same time the changes produced by these transformations were limited by the limitations of political modernism.
The Reformation was a tumultuous period in European history in which the patterns of religious identity and belief were destabilized, and society faced a problem of law and order as individuals and society debated what the basis for civil society should be. The Reformation introduced new concepts of freedom and liberty in religious belief, freedom from the state and even the state itself.
With the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, paper had become a mass medium. Suddenly the means of communication were completely different and accessible to everyone, allowing a multiplicity of voices in social discourse that had never existed before.
These developments created new ways of knowing, communicating, organizing, and affecting society. How it was all going to play out was not clear. The social actors at the time were only beginning to understand the new technologies and would ultimately put them to the test. This is where technology and science diverge.
In science, we try to use these tools to understand, address, and transform human situations. In the political and social domain, the environment and its occupants are the subject. Here, science is engaged as a tool for transformation rather than as a means for understanding or reform. Scientists were in the process of understanding the world before politics and then governing.
The difference between science and politics and the new disciplines such as sociology, economics, and environmental sciences is that their aim is not to change but to explain. In this sense, they are primarily descriptive rather than prescriptive. Scientists are usually historians and philosophers in another sense. The social sciences are a research method that attempts to explain the causes of change, and how these causes are connected to human actions. The political sciences deal with how to create political change. Sociology and economics have a strong empirical base but are still normative in nature. They do not speak to our ideas about how we should live or behave in society, but rather seek to explain the nature of institutions and structures that create them.
The divergent practices in science and the social sciences can still be seen in some of the modes of inquiry. In science, once you've established an idea, you must prove it, often through rigorous experimental and measurement approaches. People working in the social sciences generally give priority to argumentation and dialogue. This was one of the aspects of science that made it an ideal research tool for explaining social phenomena and what happens in the context of large-scale social systems such as government, law, economics, and civil society. Science won out because it was, first, a method, second, an expression of human consciousness, and third, it offered a way of understanding social processes in a manner that involved humans as primary causal agents. DISRUPTION AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
While it is true that human beings cannot be separated from the social environment they inhabit, we have been able to make advances in human society through the scientific tools of the human sciences. The purpose of the humanities—its basic objective is to study, explain, and to interpret the "way we live"—takes us beyond our interpersonal relationships and questions who we are, what we value, and what we can become. The physical sciences are a tool for telling the truth and for moving society forward.
Whether or not social sciences exist as a distinct discipline, they can provide new tools to study new subjects, but this is done through a different method than that used in the physical sciences. The focus of the social sciences remains on communication and interpersonal relationships. Science does, however, offer a different framework, the "naturalistic fallacy," to describe social phenomena
. The main problem with the naturalistic fallacy is that it limits social science as a method for understanding the world because it turns everything into a product of matter and energy. Nothing more. This is a naturalistic fallacy because everything, including human beings, has a subject-matter element and is created by means of an action, a social context, or an individual and social history. This is not what the naturalistic fallacy is suggesting.
Scientific inquiry is rooted in human behavior, but this does not make it an ideal method for research. Naturalism does, however, inform why a fair share in our economy is worth $10 trillion, or why climate change and food security affect us all, or how community or racial problems can result in conflict. Science can tell us things, but it cannot tell us how to have a fair society.
With our contemporary systems of power and authority, naturalistic fallacy, applied to understanding what is happening in the world, leaves us with a lot of ambiguous problems. There are not many truly solvable questions that have a simple answer. This is partly because the tools for investigating natural systems are so different from the tools of social systems. It is also because the roots of conflicts in our social systems, such as race, have been exposed to people of color as long as society has existed. We have become more racially aware, and science is beginning to recognize its limitations. We do not understand how human behavior is determined by individual and collective experiences and is, in turn, socially constructed. Social structure and political power are often inextricable. The answer to the problem of how people make meaning is not going to be found in a simple theory.
Where does this leave us with the humanities? While they make contributions to understanding our society, the humanities have a major limitation. The humanistic approach is a flawed and incomplete picture of the world with disciplines still geared around putting people in boxes and giving them labels, and that is a deadly mistake. It suggests that some people are less than human, while other people are more than human.
I believe that the humanities are increasingly important. This is an old point and to continue arguing over how they help us understand the world is as dangerous as arguing over the usefulness of science. The answer to the question, "How do we overcome human nature and work with it?" is not to invent a new methodology or ignore the human. A society cannot change social problems because they cannot figure out how to understand what human nature is or how it works. We do not have to look at science to understand this, because we have already learned these lessons through history. DESIGN AS A TOOL IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF DISRUPTION
We are in the middle of what I believe to be a fundamental shift in the way people have thought about design. Innovation and change have become synonymous in our collective discourse and, along with them, the role of design in these projects is changing as well and changing the way people interact with products: The disruptor:
Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Kickstarter, and the ongoing experiments, which all belong to this tradition, all demonstrate that design is not only the language that defines the product experience
, but is also an efficient, automated and collaborative tool to engage a community in building the product together.
Whether it is the customer experience through Facebook, or the Amazon Go checkout line, all these projects are based on the idea of connecting people to what they want through a personal and private interface. Communication:
Design has now become an instrument using voice and language to define new meaning. Design cannot create the "world" it presents to users, but only creates a contextual context and an environment. It brings meaning to all these different values through communicating meaning to a user, in an easy-to-understand manner, even for people who have little or no background in the fields of design and technology. FUTURE-PROOFING AND THE CONTEXT FOR DISRUPTION
Design is disrupting business models by connecting people to products that solve real problems. This is the most exciting part of the current disruption. Creating innovations that are powered by artificial intelligence is both a challenge and an opportunity. The technology is exciting, but at the same time, it is also complex and difficult to use. It is difficult to use because of the paradigm shift. This new paradigm has brought about the need for multiple skill sets, giving rise to the need for the designers, product managers, engineers, developers, and research teams. This also forces companies to acknowledge the fact that in order to optimize their users' experience, they should break down the silos that existed in the past.
Before commencing any work on a future-proofing strategy, a deeper understanding of the anatomy of disruption is required. There are two subjects to consider in this regard: the first one is the nature of disruption
, and the second is the pattern of disruption
. They are both connected with the philosophy of disruption, so let us deal with the first subject first.
In very broad societal terms, disruption is the shaping of a new regime, which is fundamentally different from the previous one, which has exhausted itself or is at a point where it is only feasible to reform. This contrasts with more orderly regime change, which comes about when an existing system changes without changing the underlying operating premise (such as, replacing the labor contracts to reduce labor costs, i.e., from worker's status to machine status).
Because disruption always disrupts an existing system, the question is not if it is happening, but when it will happen
and how soon it will happen
. The need to forecast the timing of disruption is very much in line with an applied philosophy of disruption.
What is the nature of disruption? Disruption as a phenomenon can be understood as the mending of the old structure of a previously established system into a new, more efficient structure. Disruption can be from below, or from above, or both. The general rule, however, is that if the disruption comes from the top, then there is very little likelihood of it resulting in the creation of a new system. If the disruption comes from below, it will naturally introduce elements into the new system that have the power to expand it. If the disruption comes from above, it will introduce elements of the old system into the new one, and these elements will exist in that system without necessarily threatening it, while at the same time becoming dormant until they are needed. ANARCHY, CIVIL UNREST, INSURRECTION
The core element of disruption is that of chaotic nature. Since it results from the tearing down of the existing structure and rebuilding it from scratch, it is inherently disorderly. The chaos inherent in disruption requires that there are no guardrails to hold things together, so things tend to move at a very fast pace. There are several core reasons for this:
Constant change can have a high degree of difficulty in giving people the time to acclimate. The chaos nature of disruption means that the old guard will not be able to rely on the old structures anymore. This usually does not matter because people tend to adjust to change more easily than at other times. However, it does influence the individuals who are at the receiving end of the disruption, and this does have a restraining effect on the entire society.
In most cases, the individuals who get disrupted tend to remain exposed to a higher degree of uncertainty. This could lead to greater anxiety. In other words, people are more comfortable in familiar situations, and they tend to resist change when they are not.
Considering the above points, we will readily agree that in the case of disruption, the structural integrity of the old system is of less concern than that of the individual participants of the system. FIRST CONCLUSION
Technological disruption occurs when something the entire population of a sector already knows or does. It does not happen by accident. It is either the result of a person's creative activity or a set of events that intentionally disrupts an industry or industry segment, and makes a business out of that segment. For these actions to take place leading to a meaningful outcome, organizations need design as facilitator of the pattern of disruption.
©2021 Alexander Manu 
Available at: https://dictionary.apa.org/naturalistic-fallacy