How to Blow Stuff Up at Work, and Win

innovationIt’s never been more urgent for you to be a disruptive hero. Everything is changing so fast, that there are only two kinds of people in most workplaces: 1. Proactive disruptors, and 2.Victims who get disrupted. Be the former, not the latter.

Some of us are just born disruptors, born to blow things up…

“As a child, my mother had to constantly replace the glass in my windows. I used to blow them out weekly. When I was 10, I learned how to make gunpowder from charcoal and supplies from the pharmacy. I blew up the toilets in school, too. That is who I am.”

That is Tiburcio de la Carcova, founder of Santiago Makerspace, in Chile. I interviewed him for my book, Disrupt! Think Epic, Be Epic. (See below for free download.)

Tiburcio eventually learned to translate that rebellious childhood into a more constructive-yet-still-disruptive way of being. He’s part of the maker movement, which is the open sourced DIY engineering and manufacturing of computers, robotics and more. “We are part of the new industrial revolution,” says de la Carcova — what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology is now embedded in and disrupting every dimension of society…our work, our play, our lives, even our bodies.

If you were not born to disrupt, and need to some tips and best practices to get you started, here are some from Disrupt! interviewees…

Be Bucky

Buckminster Fuller famously said “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

• Do not blow stuff up by attacking the current system. There are too many people invested in keeping things the way they are. They will wear you down.

• Instead, invest your energies in building a new model, a new way of doing things. One of the best/easiest areas to focus on right now is digital transformation — most every organization with processes or activities more than a few years old is struggling with how to bring them into the cognitive-soon-to-be-AI era.

Start Small, With a Narrow Focus

The size for mobile phone apps is projected to be $80 billion to $101 billion by 2020. All that from products that cost, on average, between 48 cents and $3.00; and where 90% of all apps are free. Regardless of whether your disruptive change is focused externally, on customers, or internally, on workplace changes…

  • Focus on a sub-subset of a larger system. (Most apps do one narrowly-focused thing very well.) The more narrow your focus — like how one form gets filled out, or how one training program works, or how one task is performed — the better your chance of getting away with disruptive changes.
  • Start small: Keep initial costs as low as possible (a lot can be done with $0 and sweat equity); launch pilots; then iterate, iterate, iterate.

Make Life Easier

Time poverty and the fact that everything takes so much effort (… “Make it easier!!” ) are two of today’s biggest challenges for most everyone. If your solution makes it easier to (…fill in the blank…), your chances of blowing stuff up are greatly increased.

• If you are selling something internally to your bosses: This includes making their lives easier too. Unfortunately, I wish this weren’t true, but: Whenever I consult on making things easier for the masses, it’s a continuous uphill battle. But whenever such changes are pitched as making it easier for the C-Suite to manage things, we can’t move fast enough! Save them time or effort, and you are golden.

• For customers: You will go viral if they not only get ease of use, but if your product or service also gives them a chance to express themselves — customizing your product to their personality or their specific needs; participating in follow-up activities, etc.

Build a Loyal Following

Before selling your idea to the world, build a loyal following who love your disruptive change. When it comes time to sell it, they will do it for you. If selling your idea internally to your bosses, enlist one or two them to test or experience your change. If it’s as good as you think it is, they will become your champions.

Passion Seals the Deal

Your passion for how your disruption will change things for the better is key. You’ll need that intense passion to push past the many barriers put in your way. If you are successful in Steps 3 and 4, you will surely succeed in Step 5, and you will have blown stuff up and gotten away with it.

 Still want more…?

With this link, you can download the first ten (of 25) disruptive habits and how-tos from Disrupt! Think Epic, Be Epic, for free. Enjoy!

Bill Jensen

Bill Jensen

Bill Jensen is the foremost thought-leader on workplace simplicity, an IBM Futurist, and author of eight best-selling books. He has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal. As Mr. Simplicity, his mission is to make it easier to do great work and to hack stupid work. His research includes interviews and surveys with over one million people around the globe. He is CEO of the change consulting firm, The Jensen Group. You can contact Bill through email ( or his website.

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