Appetite for Disruption

Popular culture has a history of converting word meanings to entirely opposite or unrelated contexts. A few examples include sick, hot, cool and mad.

sick — not having to do with illness, but something impressive such as: “Dude, that gold-medal winning snowboarder laid down a sick run on the half-pipe”

hot/cool — not having to do with temperature, but something attractive, appealing or approval-worthy as in: “Sheila looks hot in that mini-skirt” or “Hey that’s cool, man”

mad — not having to do with an angry mood, but something rare or special like: “Franklin is a bit of a dweeb, but he’s got mad Hadoop skills”

One of the more noticeable entries lately would be the assorted iterations of the word disrupt. The traditional interpretation of disrupt, disruptive, disrupting or disruption is generally negative. However the latest “definition” infers a highly desirable state of transformative innovation and invention.

While there’s really nothing particularly disruptive about this process of creating a new word translation, the issue with disrupt is that for the most part it is being applied to mundane rather than transformational events that the updated usage implies. When this occurs it’s the equivalent of countless consumer products over the years launching a “new and improved” version when the product or brand has merely undergone a repackaging, label or logo change.

Calling ordinary progress, natural evolution of design features and new technology developments disrupting doesn’t make it so. Even when a difference is made it usually takes place gradually with minimal initial impact, and rarely causes a wide-spread or wide-felt disruption. Society’s collective obsessive appetite for disruption is meaningful, but putting a dramatic spin on a word isn’t likely to satisfy that craving.

Article contributed by Kelly Blokdijk (block-dyke) — Leveraging her unique perspective as a progressive thinker with a well-rounded background from diverse corporate settings, Kelly consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource, recruiting and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.

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