An Introduction to Collective Disruption


“Collective Disruption:  How Corporations & Startups Can Co-Create Transformative New Businesses” is the title of a book by Michael Docherty, who is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the Leadership Forum 2016 event held by the Chicagoland chapter of the Project Management Institute.

As a project director for the event, I am helping put together this program which will bring over 150 senior executives from established corporations all over the Chicagoland area to discuss the topic “Strategy for Innovation:  the PM Challenge.”   As one suggested strategy for innovation, we are bringing Michael Docherty to talk about his road map for what he calls “Collective Disruption.”   This process is one which partners established companies and start-ups to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem to co-create new market-disrupting businesses.

Over the next 10 blog posts, I will review the chapters of his book to set the stage for the Leadership Forum which is scheduled to take place on May 20th in Chicago, IL.

Why the partnership between established companies and start-ups?   Established companies are strong at marketing and scaling up  innovations once they are created, but coming up with those transformative innovations is not one of their strengths.   On the other hand, start-ups are strong at coming up with transformative innovations, but need capital, marketing expertise, and production know-how in order to take that idea to the marketplace.   So the strengths of one side of the equation can balance the weaknesses of the other.

Why transformative innovations?    Sustaining or core business innovations are aimed at maintaining one’s business, but not transforming and creating entirely new products and services which can potentially disrupt the market.

A word about the title “Collective Disruption”:   the “Collective” part obviously refers to the innovation ecosystem referred to above which is created by the partnership between established companies and start-ups.   However, the disruption part refers to innovation which can eventually redefine the industry, the most obvious example of which is the iPhone.

And what about the title of the Leadership Forum itself?   Of course, the “Strategy for Innovation” is what Michael Docherty will talk about.   Why is this “the PM Challenge”?   The challenge part comes from the fact that getting established companies and start-ups to cooperate seems like a great idea theoretically, but when it comes to actually implementing it there is the unescapable fact that these entities have cultures that are like oil and water.   How do you get them to communicate with each other?

My answer is:  soap!    A soap molecule has one end that can communicate with oil molecules and one end that can communicate with water molecules.   With the mediation of soap, oil and water can communicate with each other, and the results, well, they come out in the wash, to extend the metaphor a little bit longer.

We are PMI are suggesting that project managers can be the ones that help established companies communicate with start-ups because more and more of them are fluent in the project management language used by enterprises, the traditional or so-called “waterfall” style of project management, and that used by entrepreneurs, the so-called “agile” style of project management.

This topic is so important, in fact, that the Chair of the Board of PMI Global, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, will be coming to the event as another keynote speaker to address it.

So starting tomorrow, I will start with Chapter 1 of Michael Docherty’s book, entitled “The Era of Disruption.”

 

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