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Author and consultant, Whitney Johnson, President and Co-founder of Rose Park Advisors’ Disruptive Innovation Fund discuss the power of disruption theory and how it can release the better self in all of us. With a background on Wall Street covering emerging markets and telecom, Whitney Johnson came to some important realizations about the personal challenges we all face in our careers, and the reasons we become stymied along the way. Johnson’s books, Disrupt Yourself and Build an A-Team, focus on achieving goals through her core philosophy of ‘disruption.’ The consultant provides an overview of her mission to help people become better bosses and team builders and achieve higher goals by being cognizant of the moments when we are at the top of a learning curve and it may be time to move on. Disruption deals with recognizing this and making a change.

Johnson outlines how disruption theories suggest that one take on market risk, new markets that may not as of yet be fully actualized or even exist, as opposed to the competitive risk that comes with inserting oneself into a saturated market. Additionally, Johnson advocates playing to one’s strength, for when individuals focus their challenges in areas where they have outstanding abilities they will be emboldened to attempt new challenges in unfamiliar markets, which could lead to successes.

The author and consultant details how the basic tenets of disruption philosophy can be utilized to help corporations and businesses build better teams. Building great teams come through optimizing learning curves. Johnson explains that businesses should strive to have approximately 70% of their team at a point in the learning curve where they know a sufficient amount but are not masters of the information. It is in this steep part of the learning curve that they are achievers and innovators.

Further, about 15% of the team should be at the lower end, such that they are not completely proficient and therefore ask many questions about process and reasoning. And through this question and answer process, innovative ideas often spring forth. Finally, 15% should be at the high end, and these are the masters of the information who provide the structure and guidance to keep the team moving forward.

The Innovation Fund co-founder stresses the importance of considering disruptive constructs such as: ‘am I taking on market risk,’ ‘am I playing to my strengths,’ ‘is the task hard but not debilitating,’ and ‘am I gaining momentum.’ Johnson advises individuals to appraise the variables and let the signs point them to their next career move, be it a disruption that takes them to a new uncharted adventure or one that moves them into a novel and challenging area within their company.

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