Five Stages of Disruption Denial

Disruption

Today we live with constant disruption.  Technology, economic, political and other changes challenge our notions of how things should proceed in our personal lives–and business–every day.  Our typical reaction to disruptive change is not to embrace it but to deny it, and by stages to come to understanding.  Grant McCracken has written an interesting post in the HBR Blog about five stages of disruption, that I summarize here.  Because much of Web marketing is about disruption, I think this idea is worth sharing, to help all of us recognize disruption denial in those around us and even in ourselves.

1. Confusion

We look at the new development, and we just don’t get it.  What’s so important about LinkedIn?  What use would I ever have for it?  Makes no sense to me at all.  Why should I care?

2. Repudiation

I remember when PCs first started to arrive in the corporate computing scene, hearing one of the mainframe  diehards say “We don’t need PCs.  We have terminals with microprocessors in them.”  At this stage, it’s fashionable to deny the importance of the new technology.

3. Shaminig

At this point, we’re convinced:  the new technology is going nowhere.  Our reaction is to advocate giving the new technology a while and it will go away.  We’re sure it’s not important.  Who would ever want to promote a product in 140 characters anyway?

4. Acceptance

OK, we realize that it’s here and it’s staying.  So we sign on, finally, and stop our opposition to it.  The fact of arrival is here.  We adapt.  And move to the final stage.

5. Forgetting

Of course, as innovators, we can’t be content with the history we’ve just built of opposing the new technology!  So what do we do?  No one wants to be the last person to “get it,” so we simply rewrite our own history of the last four stages, and convince ourselves that we were on board all the time.  How could we have missed, or even opposed, such an evidently good idea?

The Bottom Line

Be aware of the five stages!  And when something new presents itself, look at it analyze it carefully, and resist the urge to react emotionally.  Think about its personal impact and think about how to adapt to it if it’s successful.

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