Some of us come from learning environments that labelled students who challenged teachers or their learning process as being “disruptive” and rebellious. Some of these students were punished, threatened, or ignored until they complied with the accepted “norm”. As a consequence, some students developed “negative anchors” around being labelled as “disruptive” and learnt to avoid their teacher’s displeasure and disapproval, and developed more compliant behaviors that effectively “kept them out of trouble”. Others who rebelled often missed the opportunity to benefit from a traditional education. Only exceptional teachers and educators were curious and questioned as to why they were thinking or behaving “differently” to “the pack”.
Often identified as “trouble makers”, and alienated from the rest of the more compliant students, many of these “disruptive” students fell by the wayside and were not able to move on and achieve their potential.
Many of these “deviants” were found alternative means of becoming socialized and educated whilst others continued to live of exclusion, social and intellectual alienation.
Alternately many found the courage and resilience to continue their rebellion, and continued to challenge the status quo. By being rebellious, “disruptive” and “deviant” many of them changed both their game and ultimately, the world! They did this by thinking what no-one else was thinking and doing what no-one else was doing, by taking conventions and turning them on their head, by making the ordinary unexpected.
Research now provides evidence of a range of contributing factors including AHDI, as well as a range of learning or brain processing irregularities, plus a variety of social and environmental issues that impact young people’s learning behaviors. Fortunately many parents, teachers and educators have learnt to read the signs and become more flexible and adaptive in their learning methods. This has enabled many of these often exceptional rebellious, “disruptive” and “deviant” students, to more appropriately accept and express their brilliance and creativity.
Some of the more compliant and conventional students completed college and university, and then joined big organisations where they became part of the status quo and slowly moved up the hierarchical corporate ladder. Exceptional high performers competed successfully for extrinsic rewards, status and power, as this became a globally accepted way “of doing things around here”. Others, whilst very competent in their corporate roles, adhered to the implicit “rules” and remained conventionally comfortable, dependent on others to guide their way, whilst avoiding punishment or retribution for “rocking the boat”.
Complacent, inwardly focused, conventional ways of doing business results only in incremental change, whilst deep transformation is required to change the business game.
• Disruption and deviance are the key tools for changing the business game!
• Deviants are willing “to boldly go”, to challenge the status quo, to think the unthinkable and surprise the world with new inventions and unexpected solutions through their rebellious and disruptive thinking strategies.
• Organizations that focus efforts on creating innovative cultures that enable leaders to be intentionally disruptive and deviant will flourish in the 21st century.
Risk adversity and fear of failure typically get in the way of organizations embracing disruption and deviance as the basis for experimenting and catalyzing innovation as an inherent game changing tool.
The old “labels” and “negative anchors” around “being disruptive”, embedded in the organizational psyche through schools and educational institutions, still create paralyzing fearful responses to change and innovation. This essentially inhibits organizations from embracing and maximizing the possibilities and creativity that disruption, diversity and difference offer.
At ImagineNation™ through our extensive research and development process carried out over the past 2 years, we have identified how to successfully teach people how to be “creatively rebellious”; by teaching them to be confidently and intentionally disruptive to successfully deviate from the norm. The intent is to create the “safe space” for the disruptive collisions that cultivate peoples “provocative competence” to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship to occur.
This can be achieved by developing an organizational innovation management process that:
1. Adopts a whole systems approach that focuses on building an innovative business eco-system that embodies and enacts the attributes of emergence, passion, experimentation and courage.
2. Ignites people’s intrinsic motivation for innovation by balancing the need or necessity for innovation with the possibilities that creative ideas and solutions potentially offer.
3. Teaches people how to generate ideas and solutions by embracing experimenting and practicing the mindsets of not knowing, challenging the assumed boundaries and conventions, permitting failure and embracing difference, deviance and diversity.
4. Gives people permission to adapt and collaborate, inquire and debate disruptively rather than destructively, experiment and improvise whilst keeping the pot of differences and deviance simmering.
5. Embeds the intrinsic motivators, mindsets and behaviours into daily activities and habits, processes and systems.
It also increases the possibilities for game changing re-inventions and innovation that can restructure the very way we approach customers, markets, communities and the world as a whole.
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Janet Sernack has 30 years of consulting experience to the manufacturing, retailing, finance and telecommunications businesses to Australasia’s and Israel’s top 100 companies as Compass Learning Pty Ltd. She relocated to Israel, where she joined the Start-Up revolution and founded ImagineNation, a generative and provocative global learning company that develops innovative leaders and entrepreneurship in global corporations.