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How do you react to that word? Do you recoil? Does the sight of ‘disruptive’ disrupt your thinking? At we strive to be the epitome of disruptive. We want to shake things up. Disruptive to us means innovative. But this article isn’t about our business (though it is about our philosophy) this article is about the total belief we have in the power of disruptive employees to take businesses forward. 

You’ve heard of organised chaos, but have you heard of disruptive innovation?

Given the horror of the above picture displaying a young man cycling through an office, you may be bewildered by our praise of disruptive employees. You may be intrigued as to how they could ever have value. Among the management, you certainly wouldn’t be alone in wanting to reduce the amount of disruptive employees, (or get rid of them entirely). Putting aside the fact that such people can be difficult to manage, disruptive employees have a lot to offer.

Wikipedia defines ‘disruptive innovation’ as an innovation that helps to create a new market and value network, eventually going on to disrupt an existing market (or value network), displacing earlier technology.

Sounds good right? So how can we get some? Well, due to the fact that innovation begins in the human brain, such a process must necessarily begin with the disruptive innovator or employee.

The ability to disrupt is valuable because:

  • Innovation. If you recruit disruptive employees them you are enshrining your business with innovators. More ideas, at every level, means more opportunities to grow and to succeed.
  • Energy. Disruptive employees have stacks of energy and enthusiasm which is contagious. They radiate it. It motivates and inspires. This is good on a team.
  • Thought-leaders. If you employ innovative thinkers, your business will get a reputation for being home to future thinking. That will make you trusted, and certainly exciting, but also it will attract other great minds. Think Facebook.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit. Your business can ooze business. Live it, breathe it, love it. How it should be.
But managing a team of entrepreneurs will be hard work won’t it? Yes of course, but the pay-off is ma-hou-ssive ;)

What do you call a disruptive employee? 

Not Dennis. It’s time we stopped thinking of a disruptor as a menace and started regarding them as a genius of innovation. Face it, they’re just different. Time to harness their energy rather than repress it?

Yesterday CNN published an article discussing how ‘most business leaders don’t understand what makes innovation so different from everything else they do at work’, and claiming that ‘they haven’t adjusted their behaviour to accommodate these differences’. They highlight a potent problem for businesses in that innovation is hard to enshrine into employees. Perhaps the answer is to hire entrepreneurs, not employees.

Of course, if you employee entrepreneurs then you need to adopt a very different managerial style towards them so that they do not get frustrated nor does their creativity get squashed in the slog of corporate business.

We’d love to hear from you about your experience with disruptive employees, whether you’ve recruited them, managed them or have been one of them. Send your stories to Get disruptive.


Daily Manager Tip

Below is Simon Sinek's hiring mantra....

"My why is to inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change the world. Anyone who doesn't want to change the world and who doesn't believe in the power of inspiration won't like working for me. The title of my ad alone will appeal to those who do".

If all businesses hired like this the world would be a better place.