Disruptors: Expert insight into how to blaze a trail of innovation

Individuals and enterprises wanting to pioneer disruptive technologies and methods in their industries need courage, clarity and conviction to see the journey through to the end.

This was just one of the messages delivered by Vivek Ganotra, chief executive at digital commerce business THG Ingenuity, and keynote speaker at TheBusinessDesk.com’s Disruptors Conference, which was hosted by Nexus in Leeds and sponsored by BHP, Clarion and SPG.

Ganotra said disrupters must be prepared to navigate unchartered territory with no reference points to rely on.

“You can’t go to a consultant and say, ‘show me what good looks like’. And you can’t say, ‘well show me what the benchmarks are.’

“You’re setting a new standard and a new marker for others to follow. So if you’re truly disruptive you have to back yourself to say, ‘I know what I’m doing and I’m clear on what I’m actually solving.'”

He said disrupters will always face hurdles, including people’s “inherent resistance to change”, which he noted is a normal human response.

“Within organisations, there is a natural defensive posture,” he said. “Sometimes when you talk abut disruption it can be seen as a threat to people in the organisation.

“So you then need to create real, tangible examples and show a path to the organisation which helps these people embrace change.”

He added disruptors should expect to be misunderstood by others, if what they are doing is genuinely meaningful.

He said making the case for disruption boils down to clearly explaining why such a path should be taken. “This ‘why’ has to be crystal clear, but there’s a tendency to rush into some of these technologies without spending enough time on working out what the prize is,” he warned.

“These are very hard decisions to make for any chief executive or senior team. This is why it comes back to recognising whether the prize is big enough and worth it.”

Ganotra said disrupters also need to distinguish between what is a fad and a trend when determining whether their idea is innovative and worthy of pursuit.

“I remember going to conferences not too long ago and everything was about Web3 and virtual reality,” he said.

“While I think it is a relevant technology, to say it’s going to change everything and that we’re all going to spend half our life in a virtual world was swinging the pendulum too far.

“It is the underlying trend which matters. Over the last 20 years we’ve seen increasing interaction between humans and machines.

“That level of interaction has continued to grow and how you capitalise on this in your industry does have a lot of relevance.”