Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Disruption as a car crash

The other day, I was the only witness to a car crash. Car A veered this way, Car B spun that way. I pulled over and tried to help. The cops got there and asked me what happened.

I drew a blank.

Everything after the crash, I remember with perfect clarity. But I couldn't tell you what car was where at the actual moment of contact.

I'm sure the cops thought I was a jackass. But it wasn't that I wasn't paying attention. I was. My eyes were scanning from the road to my mirrors to my gauges. My ears were open for a knock in my engine or a siren behind me. It wasn't until something disrupted this pattern that I moved my focus from the general to the specific.

Karsh\Hagan is in the TBWA\ network, which means we spend a lot of time talking about "disruption." People typically use language like this:

Disruption is a tool for change and an agent of growth: a working methodology and a life view philosophy.

The word is difficult, uncomfortable but "Disruption" is not destructive. It is creation. Disruption is a means of creating something dynamic to replace something that has become static.

OK. But since my non-witnessing, I've been thinking of disruptive ideas as crashes for the mind. It doesn't matter how good or bad an idea is if it doesn't also disrupt everyday input patterns enough to compel focus.

There are a million ways to accomplish this trick. In some places, great design or an engaging headline may be enough. In others, a new technology or an improved utility might be necessary.

But disruption comes first. Without it, you've got nothing.

Cross-posted on the agency blog.

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