Keep your disruption to yourself

Kris w/Paris Om, Black and Gold Circles

Kris w/Paris Om, Black and Gold Circles

The word disruption has been inflated beyond recognition.  Today, it is a catchy-sounding short cut from status quo to something better- with better defined as different faster.

Even knowing that, it still is an effective attention-grabber. So, I'll admit that this article on the shutdown caught my eye. Actually, it was more for his use of the word optimism than disruption but that's later. Anyhoo, Michael Fertik is absolutely adorable in his outsider's assessment of what government needs in his LinkedIn Post from Friday, The Shutdown: Optimism and Disruption. He's also damn annoying (hugs, Michael!).

To be fair, I couldn't agree more with his statement, "When I talk to people in DC, I’m struck by the slavish adherence to incrementalism."  Though, to me it's less about adherence to and more about acceptance of. 

But what comes next is totally obnoxious.  "Here in Silicon Valley, my colleagues and I see an area that’s ripe for disruption, for exploring big, creative, smart ideas that really could generate momentum. It needs us..."

Oh dear lord, you can't be serious. 

First of all, the last thing we need are more big egos.  That should be immediately obvious. So on that count, you and "your colleagues" are out.  Then, to suggest that the exploration of big, creative, smart ideas isn't already happening is just simply incorrect. This last point is more of a nit but citing Rahm Emanuel as a positive example of anything we'd want to see more of in the future is just vomit-y. I might lose my bleeding heart card for saying this but, in his role as chief of staff, he ruined this administration's chance of getting anything accomplished through the agencies' political appointees. Pervasive attitudes come from the top.  The trickle down effect of his negativity and inability to deal with incompetence shocked many career feds who were otherwise excited about hope and change.

Its tough to take the "be more like us" argument from an homogenous, singularly-focused nerd corps with as many dismal failures as soaring successes. Feds are deliberate because they have to be.  Some of these programs literally have life and death impacts.  No matter how cool your app might be, you can't say the same. 

Surely, our government can, should, and will do better. And rather than "different faster", better should be defined as a renewed commitment to high-impact (both personal and economic) programs delivered at the lowest possible cost. 

So, like Mike, I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic because I've personally seen the system find and encourage the drive and passion among MY colleagues and our clients to move important programs forward. I'm sensing more of that to come.


Disruption. The word as applied to business and technology has morphed beyond the point of usefulness-- backed up by this New Republic article and again here in Business Insider.

In 1995, Harvard Business School professor Clay Christenson coined the phrase "disruptive technology" to describe an emerging phenomenon in tech businesses with a sad ending (at least for the firms doing the innovating). As described by Christenson, the process he observed went something like create, convince, sell, get copied, get priced out of business. .