Put simply, disruptive talent is an individual who can bring new ideas, direction and drive to a business by challenging the status quo and revolutionising the way in which an organisation approaches things. We are talking about figures like Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Travis Kalanick. People who can spot a trend before it has begun and someone who can “shake things up”.
Technology has played a major role in creating and honing disruptive talent. Companies such as Uber and Air BnB have been born out of a new way of thinking and a new approach to utilising resources. This technology has created markets that are transitioning at breakneck speed, making it hard for many companies to keep pace with competitors who are offering a faster and easier product or service.
This revolutionary technology has caused many of history’s great companies to fail, such as Kodak and BlockBuster who failed to get ahead of competition or even just move with the times. So now organisations are actively seeking disruptive talent to combat competition in their market and find the “next big thing.”
Disruptive talent is necessary to create continuous advances, changes and improvements because this is what gives companies an “edge” and drives the economy into new ventures. So in this market, can companies succeed without it?
With the level of competition that companies face today alongside consistently declining economic growth and on top of consumer overload because we have so much to choose from, it is safe to say that without an innovative product or service, companies will never turn over the kinds of returns seen in the past. That doesn’t, however, mean to say that they will fail. There are many who argue that actually, one super talent can’t fix the huge multi-faceted issues that businesses face today and in fact only collaborative working is the way to success.
This could be a result of disruptive talent itself failing within a business, rather than the business failing at being innovative. Disruptive talent is ruthlessly ambitious and driven, often stepping on other’s toes, even if they don’t mean to.
This bold and fearless approach is the reason that disruptive talent can be difficult to work with and team work is hard work! Peers often view them as stubborn and volatile which can impact on working relationships and they become labelled as “insensitive”, “a pain” or “difficult”.
But it is important for companies to remember that disruptive talent may not score highly on conventional measures of success such as teamwork, empathy and diplomacy and instead to test them on talent evidence and behavioural/ personality traits. So it is vital for a company to be able to distinguish between disruptive talent and just plain disruptive because genuine disruptive talent will be on a mission, with an intense focus and insatiable drive, but will understand the boundaries which are important.
Disruptive talent is a rare find and to harness it, requires a certain kind of support. A strong manager, who is able to clear obstacles in the way of new and better business practices and ideas, is essential as well as a resilient and supportive team and a robust governance model.
Additionally, making key stakeholders aware of plans and providing a clear vision which is consistently and widely communicated, will avoid a misalignment of goals so that progress is not inhibited by internal factors.
However, not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur and it would be detrimental for any company to put all their eggs in one basket. This is especially prevalent if you consider the rise of the “gig economy” alongside the number of start-ups, particularly in the tech field. Starting your own business is easier that is has ever been, so why would disruptive talent stay somewhere they feel caged, or even, accept a job offer that doesn’t include free reign to create something new and different to their own specific design.
Ultimately, companies who manage to attract, hire and hone disruptive talent will be those who send shock waves through their industry and siphon off a large chunk of the market away from the established organisations or alternatively, create a whole new market. These will be the businesses that boom rather than just survive, and there’s a big difference between booming and surviving.