In the heat of technology innovation, the concept of disruptive technology is used regularly. It is used without irony or qualification, as a term of praise. In many ways, it is used to be synonymous with "innovative", as if innovation is disruptive by definition.
But this is to misunderstand the role and nature of "disruption". It is not a good thing. It is a bad thing. We are, by nature, change averse. Society the whole world over prefers what it knows to change of any sort. The idea of disruption is alarming and unwelcome. It is a mistake to use the word as if it is a good thing for a new company. It is much better to use the concept of continuity and improvement.
In reality, most so-called disruptive technologies presented as such are not disruptive in any sense. They are innovations designed to create greater efficiencies. They are improvements, not disruptions. "Disruptive" energy technologies result in the delivery of energy in the same way."Disruptive" transport technologies result in the transport of people from one place to another in almost identical vehicles.
Of course, real change does take place, and it does disrupt previous behaviours. The last 25 years has seen a transformation in IT and communications. Change is driven by the young. It comes to us older generations, but not until the young have established its use. Sometimes - computer games - the older generations never adopt the change until the young, who adopted it in the first place, become the older generations themselves.
Is this hard to understand? Not if you remember when you were ten. The world appears to ten year-old eyes as if it has always been like that. Domestic technology, household appliances, personal accessories, travel options, all appear to a ten year-old as if they have always been like that. Whilst their parents are struggling with the latest Apple introduction, the flat-screen interactive TV, the hybrid car, their children do not realise this is new. You were all young once. Pity your poor parents, for now you have become them.
So don't muddle us up with disruption unless you absolutely must. Much better to give us comfortable continuity by making a technology we know even more enduring - which is a much better word than "sustainable", but that's another subject.
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Green Angel Syndicate is the only angel syndicate in the UK which specialises in making investments that are of benefit to the green economy. Green Anger Syndicate operate from Edinburgh and London.
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