Entrepreneurs, Disrupt Yourself

The idea of corporate disruption isn’t new, but the idea of personal disruption to drive corporate innovation is what Whitney Johnson, an entrepreneur and one of the world’s most influential management thinkers, has locked onto in her new book, “Disrupt Yourself.”

JumpStart and Roetzel sponsored her event at The City Club of Cleveland on Friday, January 29th, where she talked about her experiences with personal disruption. Here are the seven things entrepreneurs can learn from “Disrupt Yourself.”

Take The Right Risks
Johnson discusses the differences between competitive risk (jumping on a bandwagon that someone may have already jumped on) and market risk (identifying a need not being met and creating a market for it). Nature favors risk takers, as Johnson states in her book, and while market risk is less guaranteed to succeed, the outcome will be exponentially better.

Play To Your Distinctive Strengths
In order to propel yourself and your business forward, it’s important to play to your strengths. As Johnson points out, you may not always know what your strengths are or you may have an undiscovered strength that someone else can see.

“We tend to over value what we aren’t and under value what we are,” Johnson says.

She recommends asking yourself the following questions to find out what strengths you can leverage:

  • What makes you feel strong?
  • What exasperated you?
  • What do others say you do well?

Embrace Constraints
While many think having unlimited freedom will allow them to grow, Johnson points out that constraints, such as money or knowledge, actually offer structure that can help keep us focused and provide faster, more useful feedback.

Battle Entitlement
Entitlement, the belief that something is owed to you by life, is an innovation killer, says Johnson. Being aware of when you feel entitled, such as through culture, emotion and intellect, and making sure you resist those urges are the keys to driving innovation.

Step Down, Back Or Sideways To Grow
At some point, you may have to make sacrifices or rethink your plan in order to succeed. You may even need to rethink your success metrics to truly see the growth you want. The important thing is to beware of the undertow of the status quo, says Johnson, you may need to take a step back in order to propel forward.

Give Failure Its Due
Failure is a necessary part of life and as Johnson quotes Auguste Rodin, “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” While we all detest failure and often
feel shame when we fail, you should use those experiences to make you smarter.

Be Driven By Discovery
When you’re starting in a new market, there will be a lot of unknowns and as Johnson points out, people often end up in a different place than they originally anticipate based on the new things they learn. You need to be driven by discovery and open to learning new things in order to figure out what’s going to work.

Learn more about Johnson and her book, “Disrupt Yourself,” visit whitneyjohnson.com.