I came across an interesting definition of Disruptive thinking which goes like this

  • Disruptive thinking represents a mindset .. a rebellious instinct to discard old business cliches and remake the market landscapeThe telecom big bang announcement yesterday by Reliance Industries has set the cat among the pigeons. I guess it caught most industry observers off guard, even though they were expecting some surprise given the hype around the impending launch for over a year now.
  • That is one of the keys to Disruptive thinking – keep your cards close to your chest and then give a hard sock no one is fully ready for.Having been a close part of their earlier foray into telecom 13 years ago and witnessed the behind the scenes radical thinking, planning, project management for scaling up reach and spread and the constant efforts at hammering costs down on handsets and tariffs to benefit the end consumers, it came as no surprise that the rules of the game had changed overnight.Suddenly the mobile phone went on from being a luxury item or a corporate perk in early 2003 to a mass product. Same experience in Airtel with their landline and broadband efforts in the previous decade when they took on the slow moving ,lethargic, government incumbents .It was transformational and driven by an aggressive Vision by the founders.
  • That is the another key to Disruptive thinking – ” Have an aggressive yet realistic Vision” not clouded by past trends, data, naysayers on one hand, or the imaginary, unlimited potential of a billion plus Indians on the other.I saw and experienced the same during my 16 years with Modi Xerox/Xerox in India from the start up days. The Vision was strong, compelling and bordered on the arrogant 🙂 Achieve 40% market share and market leadership in year 1, despite being the last player to come into the market. And we remained market leader for over 15 years through constant benchmark actions for others to follow. The same applied to the telecom players I spoke about, they came into the industry well after the others.
  • Another key to Disruptive thinking -” its not about being the first mover “, its about being the shaker, the rebel, the innovator, the firm believer in the cause you are championing.








  • Its about moving away from the pack and making the pack follow you to stay alive. Its a leadership mindset.Be it the online services that have come into the space of ecommerce, travel, cab aggregation, banking, online wallets etc the power has shifted to the consumers in terms of convenience and savings of time and cash outflows. Many me too’s have come up using technology, some survive, many self destruct because they were not disruptive but just trying to ride the wave. We are witnessing that fall out in the startup space in India.
  • Another lesson here – Disruptive thinking is in the radical thinking, technology is more often only the enabler.Away from home, we have seen so many countless examples of innovation and disruption from organisations like Apple, Google, 3M, Amazon and some of the iconic old names from the hardware and auto industries. The more nimble ones that thrive on a culture of constant change and innovative people practices grow while so many large brands of the earlier decades just disappeared off the radar.
  • That’s another key to Disruptive thinking – ” never accept status quo or be content with small incremental improvements ” that get mired in layers and layers of corporate bureaucracy and turf based politics and slow things down.More recently in my role as a Business Mentor, Personal Coach or Strategy facilitator and faculty during my workshops , I have been able to use so many of these examples and case studies to influence countless leaders to think differently, think radically, think like there is no box and more importantly open their mind to the immense possibilities of leveraging on their own strengths and potential or that of their businesses or both.


  • At the end, ” the key to Disruptive thinking lies in the mind”. Strategic Leaders and visionaries usually do not operate within a box. They just create a new box for themselves or their businesses.We infact call our Mentoring and Coaching model – A constructive disruptive model – first disrupt leaders or their businesses from their comfort zones, and then jointly sit and reconstruct the ” new box “


If this article or the 8 pointers on Disruptive thinking resonates with you, do comment or share it with others who can benefit from it.