Personal Disruption To Build “A” Teams


We have all heard about disruptive innovation which creates new market and values… well then why not “personal disruption” to bring the new in ourselves and Build “A” Teams. This was what Whitney Johnson who is recognized as one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world (Thinkers50) brought with her right from Harvard for the ET Now Leaders of Tomorrow Entrepreneurial Excellence Workshop


Before we dive in the pool of disruption and framework shared by Whitney let me tell you what personal disruption means:


Personal disruption is the act of applying the framework of disruptive innovation to an individual


The S Curve of Learning:

To understand the S Curve let me give you an example:

Have you ever seen a wave? … What makes it rise?


Well it’s the wind energy that passes through the water or in other words they are created by the “friction” between wind and water.
The evolution of the S Curve was by Prof. E Rogers, Whitney used this to build the S Curve Model of learning:


The S Curve model helps us in understanding the transitions and developments in the individual carriers.


As we begin our careers we are in the inexperience zone, with time, trial and error we successfully make a shift into the sweet spot of Engagement. Here is where we now understand the use cases and face the challenges (friction) that will help us in rising the S curve, it won’t be easy but there lies the core of personal disruption which will lead to innovation and build competitiveness. Once we pass the hyper-growth we are there close to the master and every one of us dreams that, but let me tell you it’s boring being at the top we lose the excitement, the adrenaline rush in combating challenges gets lost.


We somehow tend to be in the comfort zone. Well that’s when the danger plunges in. No Innovation and we are left behind in the competitive market.


The key with personal disruption is to learn to surf those S curve waves of learning and mastering. The more quickly and adeptly you can do that, the more successful you will be as a disruptor.


 Whitney said it rightly:


If you want to be an Agent of disruption, become its subject first.


With personal disruption, you start at the bottom of the ladder, you climb to the top of that same ladder and then you jump to the bottom of a new ladder.


Learn, Leap, Repeat


How to Execute the S Curve?

The Personal Disruption Framework by Whitney will help you in the execution cycle:

  1. Take competitive risk (opportunity + competition)
  2. Play to your disruptive strength
  3. Don’t undervalue yourself
  4. Embrace constraints
  5. Step back to grow (slingshot)
  6. Give failure its due
  7. Be discovery-driven


This sets the stage of personal disruption for all of us. Let me take you to the show now and let’s experience some drama on how to build high performing teams, in Whitney’s words “Build An A Team”


We as managers should be good leaders in our organization and the fun fact is that Companies don’t disrupt – people do. So if we want to move innovation forward inside our organization, remember that disruption happens at the individual level first, not the organizational level.


Every individual in the organization has to go through these three transitions:

  1. Beginners (Inexperience)
  2. Sweet Spot
  3. Mastery


But when leading, a question that we should ask ourselves as leaders is:


Do people love working with you?


Whitney with her great thoughts helped us in understanding how we should manage our team to build the A team where people will love working.


Managing the beginners:
  1. Have a plan for the beginner for next 3-4 years.
  2. Don’t Micromanage them
  3. Recognize Value of inexperience, Say yes to their questions
  4. Monitor Momentum from the starting point


Managing the Sweet Spot
  1. More friction: Give challenging tasks
  2. Appreciate Achievements
  3. Deliver on helping them jump
  4. Identify a new learning curve for them


Managing the Master
  1. The masters are the pacesetters and should push low-enders to excel
  2. They are the best trainers who should convey the corporate memoir
  3. Mentoring game is what they need to go ahead with the beginners


What it can cost if we don’t follow the best managing practices for individuals:
  1. Your company will lose people which will lead to high attrition rates
  2. Even if people stay, there is no engagement
  3. No innovation


We still have to learn a lot. But first let’s start disrupting, lean on our strengths, and in particular, our distinctive strengths.


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