Disruption

Let’s talk about disruption, shall we? That was the topic of conversation early this morning. Disruption is important when it comes to innovation. Without it, organizations continue to operate the same way they always have. It’s human to follow the tried and true. To take the well worn path rather than venture off the trail into unknown territory. Without disruption there are no breakthroughs, and without breakthroughs companies can falter, become stagnant and die.

Cartoon making hasn’t been free from disruption either. The Walt Disney Company was going through it’s own particular disruption when I returned to animation in the early seventies. The post-Walt animation studio was hardly doing impressive work. The Old Guard was desperately clinging to the past and had become calcified creatively. New factions were beginning to war with each other over who would control creativity at seventies Disney. Don Bluth and his “Bluthies” pushed in one direction while the Cal Arts Kids were eager to move in another. It was hardly the best time to be at the Walt Disney Studios but management solved that little problem for me. In the spring of 1972 I was booted out on my butt. No hard feelings from this old Disney veteran. Sometimes disruption can be painful.

Then came a time of rebuilding and with the dynamic leadership of a new film boss, Disney’s animation unit, now energized, became a hit making powerhouse. But, this wasn’t accomplished without a good deal of trauma. Disruption is seldom pleasant but the rewards are worth it. Apple computer was disrupted when their chairman, Gil Amilio was suddenly replaced by founder, Steve Jobs. That disruption turned the company around. Today, Apple needs more disruption because of the loss of their charismatic leader. It might sound crazy, but the managers probably realize Dr. Dre might be exactly what’s needed to disrupt a company that appears to be coasting. Because Disruption leads to change and change leads to Innovation. If Apple is savvy enough to get this simple truth perhaps another huge entertainment company located in nearby Burbank might realize the same.

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