Disruptive Talent, like any bold idea, needs the right climate and conditions within a work group or organisation in order to succeed.  Establishing and propagating the ideal work environment greatly influences the chances for disruptive talent to flourish.  This necessitates:

Organisational Motivation – An appropriate work environment is crucial to any organisation.  Fostering disruptive talent requires an organisational shift in culture that allows freedom to pursue projects and ideas with a shared vision, constructive judgement of ideas and permitting an active flow within the ‘team’.  The organisation needs to reduce or remove organisational barriers/obstructions that will reign in innovation, minimise risk taking and over critical assessment of ideas and actions that typically challenge the status quo.

Resources – Many senior managers believe that they can stimulate creativity by putting people under very tight deadlines, perhaps as a means of ‘internal’ control.  That’s a myth.  In fact, extreme pressure isn’t good for nurturing creative thinking and productivity.  Evidence indicates that ‘disruptors’ are more creative i.e. utilising their disruptive talent when they have more time to explore a problem, reflect on what they’re doing, gather new information, and to talk to people who might have different perspectives – which can be enormously useful. Similarly, the team need sufficient physical resources e.g. people, funding, information and materials in order that the ideas can evolve and be proven in their delivery and outcomes and not subject to restrictive budgetary controls.

Senior Management Practices – These should include allowing freedom and autonomy in both the practice of work deliverables and in the day-to-day conduct of the team’s work.  They should be stepping back and allowing ‘disruptive teams’ a sense of ownership and control over their ideas, though underpinned by ongoing encouragement throughout.  At the outset of projects, senior managers should be helping specify clear goals and advising on work teams comprised of likely individuals with diverse skills and perspectives in order to derive ‘disruptive’ success.  Read more about this in Gary’s article.

Intrinsic Motivation – If disruptive talent is to be encouraged, then the opportunity and desire to solve the problem(s) or accomplish the task(s) must be viewed as interesting and personally challenging by individuals.  The work objectives should not be solely defined by senior management, but developed by the ‘disrupter’ and their team and encompass challenging, innovative work that is different from mainstream business activity.

Conversely, suitable extrinsic rewards should be established, not necessarily a formulaic approach, e.g. bonus or incentive based payment on key targets, and not just the end result or outcome, but a mechanism that rewards along the way.  Rewards also need to compensate for risk or failure and act as a positive reinforcement for the team concerned.  The organisation should also openly value and reward the ‘disruptive’ skills differently to generally recognised talents within the organisation.

For more information, please contact Chris on chris.legge@oecam.com