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Innovate or Die: A Lesson in Disruption and Creative Destruction from Uber

Like it or not, disruption is a natural part of life. Every so often something comes along and completely upsets the norm ... Either you’re disrupting or you’re...

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Disruption!

It’s everywhere. I live in Silicon Valley where many say that the terms disrupt and disruption have become buzzwords. Pundits believe that the word is losing its promise and impact through the acts and examples of entrepreneurs and businesses that misuse the word to describe intentions rather than associating it with a desired or natural effect.

[pullquote align=”right”] Instead of “killing it” or “crushing it” many businesses are aiming now to disrupt it![/pullquote]In some of the startup meetings I attend for example, digital disruption is actually a stated business objective. Instead of “killing it” or “crushing it” many businesses are aiming now to disrupt it!

Kidding aside, disruption is more than a buzzword of course. It is a term that is becoming an important part of everyday business to describe what is happening to and around markets and ultimately to companies everywhere. While it may be a genuine goal, disruption is the act of disturbing or interrupting the norm and its effect is measured by the following series of events that unfold.

Disruption and Creative Destruction

Like it or not, disruption is a natural part of life. Every so often something comes along and completely upsets the norm. And this is only accelerating. Either you’re disrupting or you’re at risk of getting disrupted.

Businesses, like nature itself, are open to natural selection.

In the realm of digital disruption, disruptive selection opens the door to creative destruction, which is set to unleash up every industry imaginable. As Joseph Schumpeter noted in, “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” published in 1942, creative destruction is the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. Said another way, there’s always going to be instances where new kills old or the the old evolves into something new.

Let’s take Uber for example as a form of disruptive selection. Who here loves taking taxis? I’m often in San Francisco and New York and the experience that I have is often poor. Cars don’t stop to pick you up. When they do, cars are often dirty, drivers are frequently less than pleasant, and the goal of getting from point A to B is generally by way of creative way points.

As a result, I’m a big fan of Uber (everyone’s private driver) as is anyone who uses the service.

[pullquote align=”right”]Uber was founded in 2009 by Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick and Oscar Salazar as an on-demand mobile platform that connects passengers to available drivers.[/pullquote]For those unaware of Uber, it was founded in 2009 by Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick and Oscar Salazar as an on-demand mobile platform that connects passengers to available drivers. The app shows passengers available cars, the distance/time to them, an estimated price based on their destination and an integrated payment system so that you can simply step out of the vehicle rather than doing the oft uncomfortable dance of remittance.

More importantly, Uber introduces a human touch, giving passengers the ability to rate drives and also learn more about each driver and the experiences other Uber users have shared for each. This is important because it introduces a shift in the value proposition.

Each time I get into an Uber car, I interview the driver to learn more about why they use Uber. The story is often the same. As you would guess, money is part of the equation, but so is service. Each driver has their own process of greeting passengers and ensuring that their ride is clean, pleasant and personalized. Those who don’t get it…don’t get it and it’s clear in their reviews. Pass!

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