Whips are one of the most iconic symbols of horse riding, yet they are always sparingly used. When used wisely, whips can be a useful tool to disrupt a horse’s unwanted or uncooperative behavior. It’s easy, albeit naïve, to assume that the whip is the key tool used to train a horse – or a human!
Revolution, lately rechristened as disruption, is a kind of cultural whip used to correct an outdated or redundant course. From the French Revolution to the Netflix, the annals of history are littered with the tombstones of those that fell victim to sudden disruption (Kodak, Blockbuster, Blackberry, and Marie Antoinette are just a few).
That being said, “disruption” is one of the most overused words in our lexicon today. Nowadays every product, business, service, and person want to disrupt. Everyone wants to “do a Steve Jobs”. The few out there that are not looking to disrupt, fear the disruption.
The slogans pile up: Disruption is the bogeyman of the boring. Disrupt or be disrupted. No one can escape the disruption. Disruption is the new Black. Disruption is sexy, seductive, provocative.
OK. But then what?
Stability. Studies have shown that it takes anywhere from 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit. That is, to stabilize a new behavior.
The road to stability is best travelled on a tractor, clunky and slow but steadily plodding along. That’s because the road to Stability is filled with potholes and roadblocks, both big and small. Only a tractor will suffice.
Stability is not the same as being stagnant, and is hardly ever boring. All change and disruption need to stabilize to become a meaningful part of the cultural norm. The French Revolution was ultimately meaningful only because it destabilized the monarchy and laid the ground for steadier democracy. Netflix did the infrastructural grunt work required to steadily keep up with changing attitudes to video and entertainment, and to integrate their content disruptions into our lives seamlessly. Steve Jobs had the grit to steadily pursue his philosophy of design excellence in his companies and products across the span of a lifetime.
The trailblaze of disruption is meaningless without the tractor of stability. Stability involves building an understanding of the changing status quo, creating new mechanisms to adapt to the disruption at hand. Businesses and brands need to innovate new models to redefine and measure effectiveness, develop new engines of commerce, and evolve enabling structures to cultivate disruption into becoming the new normal.
Stability is the key to cementing disruption and making it sustainable. Now if only we could find “stability” a sexier nickname…