Are you a victim of disruptive innovation? Call now.

Family doctors say they are being swamped by patients complaining of disruptive innovation disease (DID). Employers have raised concerns over £000s that they might have to pay out in compensation to sufferers who complain they DID it.

But practical help may be just around the corner for these people and their families. I am about to launch a new charity Assistance for Victims Of Innovation Disruption (AVOID). There will also be a helpline: 1-GET-YOUR-OWN-BACK,

Seriously, I have been heartened this summer by news that Harvard academics have demolished the theory behind disruptive innovation and roundly criticised its proponents. See this week’s Marketing Week for the story in a nutshell:

This is what academics are for, I tell you!

Articulating what many people have thought but didn’t have enough letters after their name to be listened to, ‘disruptive innovation,’ they say, is no more than an interesting explanation of why big companies fail in the face of upstart companies nimble on their feet. In fact it’s a more mundane version of the David and Goliath story. Only in this version Goliath is brought down by obesity and David’s nerdish obsession with technology But as a theory on which to base change management it holds little water and is positively dangerous.

If only we could persuade NHS leaders of the same; leaders who collectively seem to lack the intellectual braun to be anything other than copycat marauders of such bunkum. Why is the NHS such a fertile environment for such theories? They seem to spread as fast as the common cold and with about as much evidence behind them as homeopathy.

Even I found myself using the term in an email to colleagues this week. What a pratt I thought to myself when I re-read it. All I really mean is: we need some new ideas and to challenge and encourage each other to think then.

When I look at the places where so-called disruptive innovation has taken place all I see is lives ruined and organisations destroyed; smoke rises over the remains. For, in the same way, that people once compared the rise of patient experience to the ‘Arab Spring’ they have forgotten their history.

Revolutions more often than not turn in on themselves. The reasoned protagonists who inspired them are soon murdered by those motivated only by self-interest. The system which it is trying to replace often reacts more violently than anyone can imagine.

One of the fundamental problems I have with disruptive innovation as a concept is that it has no room for ideas around duty of care. It therefore is anathema to how we should run public services.
Activities such as public involvement which depend on developmental approaches, nurturing, humanity, continuity and a degree of stability are particularly vulnerable.

This week I have spoken to several public involvement colleagues working in organisations that for the moment should remain nameless. They talk about having three managers in as many months. Money being withdrawn as if it is a challenge they should relish. Of public involvement being redefined and spat back out at them as if they are stupid. Hideous waste of public money reinventing the wheel. Approaches to public involvement that are not about empowerment but control. All in the name of disruptive innovation.

We could be on the verge of getting ourselves in serious trouble if we don’t question this madness. At the very least, falling back several steps.

Those who argue for disruptive innovation are the velociraptors of the NHS. Grab a shiny tea tray and hold it up so they can see their reflection.

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s