Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors – in the same way that a square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares. Still with me?
Let me explain. We’re all familiar with what an innovator is - a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products. Disruptors, on the other hand, uproot and change how we think, behave, do business, learn, and go about our day-to-day, producing something new and more efficient. Smart companies recognize disruption is inevitable and adopt it as an active business strategy.
For example, we’ve all heard of Tesla - all three members of TREEO man-crush on Elon Musk constantly – and are familiar with Tesla’s mission to disrupt and accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transportation. But how does a company take on one of the largest industries in the world? Well, they build disruption into their organizational strategies and roles.
Check out this email on communication within Tesla, written by Elon himself.
Subject: Communication Within Tesla
There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.
Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept talks to a person in another dept and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.
Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager's manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else's permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.
One final point is that managers should work hard to ensure that they are not creating silos within the company that create an us vs. them mentality or impede communication in any way. This is unfortunately a natural tendency and needs to be actively fought. How can it possibly help Tesla for depts to erect barriers between themselves or see their success as relative within the company instead of collective? We are all in the same boat. Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept.
It’s this type of transparency that supports Tesla’s mission, on an enterprise level, to not just disrupt the automotive industry, but transportation in general.
It’s this type of mission that encourages TREEO to support brave and courageous change agents in our community.
So, if you’re interested in efficient organizational disruption, paying close attention to the competing elements of strategy, costs, systems, people and culture - like we are, then, we’d love to chat!
Your friends @ TREEO!