Friday, 21 November 2014


A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.
Unofficially, some self-styled "disruptive innovators" seem to have let their focus slip onto shamelessly puffing their own brand, whilst trying to disrupt any competitor, dissatisfied customer or journalist who might conceivably threaten that brand with the depressingly old-fashioned methods of smear and intimidation:
Uber is facing wide public criticism after BuzzFeed News reported that an executive floated the idea of hiring opposition readers to dig dirt on reporters. The aggressively-phrased recruiting document makes no mention of targeting the press, and is instead focused on “our opponents in the transportation industry.” A spokesperson, Kristin Carvell, said the executive, Emil Michael, was not referring to these plans to hire opposition researchers when he spoke of hiring opposition researchers to focus on reporters.

Suddenly, Team Uber are starting to look less like the paradigm-busting smartest guys in the room and more like the hapless proprietors of the notorious  Fawlty Towers Broadway Hotel, who thought they were cunningly protecting their brand by inserting the words 'For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review' in the small print of their booking document. A plan that turned out not to be so very smart after all.

Now there are still a few people who still think that Uber's attitude is just fine and dandy, including the now reliably disappointing Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame. Although it is worth mentioning that Scott's also keen on the idea of  disrupting his critics, in his case by pseudonymously pretending to be one of his own fans, then leaping to his own defence with comments like, 'He has [i.e. I have] a certified genius I.Q., and that’s hard to hide,'  'Is it Adams’ enormous success at self-promotion that makes you jealous and angry?' and 'It’s fair to say you disagree with Adams. But you can’t rule out the hypothesis that you’re too dumb to understand what he’s saying.'

Which, presumably,also seemed like a good idea at the time but, again, doesn't seem quite so smart now.

Maybe the downside of being a smarter-than-the-average-bear "disruptive innovator" is the danger of believing in your own hype to the extent that you start imagining that you're also smart enough to manipulate the inferior humans around you, whilst failing to realise that you're not actually being quite as clever as you like to think.