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Disruptive Narrative

In 1962 at Rice University in Houston Texas, John F Kennedy shared his ambitions of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Seven years later in 1969, Neil Armstrong would take one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Fifty years ago JFK announced a disruptive narrative to his fellow Americans; an imaginative notion that would disturb existing norms and extended an invitation to something beyond the current reality.

It was beyond creativity. It was beyond innovation. It was imagination with intent and an assertion that could easily be deemed as inconceivable.

Poke your head into various corners of the market and you'll hear the digital pundits wax poetic on the disruption of web 2.0. and the inexorable onslaught of social media ('social' as innovation is the trend du jour). There's no lack of discourse, explanations and assertions about how revolutionary it has become. Ushering in a new era of social networking, single handedly dismantling print media, and claims as the tour-de-force in the culmination of the Arab Spring.

Twitter and Facebook are the David’s circling in the ring with the ever-present Goliaths: purveyors of conventional thinking, champions of 20th century ways.

Yet innovation, disruptive technology, and social media are discussed in limited ways. It seems that the unending march of shiny new objects gets the lion share of time on the loud speaker, while the smaller megaphone goes to how to maximize human value around the landscape of new technology.

A disruptive narrative can address this as they are more comprehensive, far reaching and arguably more meaningful. A man on the moon is just one....

Disruptive narrative – MTV (Music Television). The tool/device was the television but the bigger, more transformative concept was music videos in your living room. Music was now more than just a soundscape. It became a visual paradise. As the platform that birthed the term VJ (video jockey), it can be argued that MTV singlehandedly transformed pop culture.

Disruptive narrative – Hip Hop. As a cultural movment it gave voice to the voiceless. There was an immense amount of value in the tools; speakers, microphones, turntables, spray paint cans and radios. The power though, was in the words, the stories and the creativity of those kids in the boroughs of New York.

Disruptive Narrative – Barack Hussein Obama. - Go back a few years (say February of 2004). We are in a paranoid, post 911 world. Someone says…“You think we could have a black President by the next election?” EVERYONE would look at you like you had four sets of eyes. Do I even have to mention the kind of name he has? Love or hate Barack Obama, the reality is that his achievement is...colossal.

Disruptive narratives allow for the biggest of ideas and the smallest of actions. They are neither right or wrong nor good or bad. They’re arguments and counter arguments that change the dialogue and re-calibrate the conversation. They create a different kind of orientation and create opportunities for a fresh perspective.

Disruptive Narratives are not just about growth and efficiency (the emphasis of the industrial economy). They fashion new trajectories, recontextualize ideas, and contour themselves around human potential.

Reader Comments (2)

You are using the term "Disruptive Narrative" in a mind-bogglingly incorrect way. Disruptive narrative is a literary definition for a narrative which is either displayed out of chronological order, outside of normal plot structure, or meant to simulate human memory. For example, a television show such as The Simpsons would be utilizing a Disruptive Narrative.

What you're talking about are simply events that disrupted societal and sociopolitical norms. Please put some thought and a quick Google search into your writing before you throw around a term you're poorly attempting to coin (or misuse).

July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBaffled Academic
Baffled Academic,

Thank you for reading our blog. Your comment is appreciated. Unfortunately your retort only scolds and offers no real constructive criticism. In sharing our writing, part of our hope is to engage in productive dialogue with our peers, colleagues and interested readers. Your remark offered limited opportunities for that. Nonetheless I’ll share a few thoughts:

1. Narrative and story are often interchanged. They can be but are not necessarily the same thing. Chronological order and plot structure (as you mentioned) correlate to storytelling. They don’t automatically correspond to narratives.

2. With the idea of narrative, I removed it from a ‘literary’ context and introduced an unconventional way of using it. With that, there is limited to no precedent. Therefore you may dislike, disagree or have issues with it, which is fine. It is not however, incorrect.

3. My use of ‘narrative’ is reflective of John Hagel III’s approach (Co-Chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge, Harvard Business Review contributor and author of "The Power of Pull"). You can find him discussing it here - http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2011/05/the-pull-of-narrative-in-search-of-persistent-context.html

I could go into further conversation around the development and evolution of the idea, but your comment was about chastisement not meaningful idea exchange.

Again thank you for reading our post and your response.
July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRasul Sha'ir

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