Disruption taught by a 2 year old toddler
Last weekend we spent some time with friends and their two-year-old, let us call him Ben, over brunch. Ben was clearly a curious and smart kid. He was using cutlery and even corrected the waitress when she put the fork and knife opposite of each other.
An interesting event took place right after we had ordered. The waitress brought us orange and apple juice. Ben’s mum poured apple juice into his cup because this was his favourite.
However, when Ben spotted his dad having orange juice, we had a problem. Ben pointed at the orange juice and to his cup. We quickly deduced he wanted orange juice. But since there was apple juice in his cup, he had to drink that first. Ben speaks three languages because his parents are bilingual (I told you, smart kid!). So Ben repeated his gesture pointing at the orange juice and his cup. Every time he got the same answer in a different language. “Drink you apple juice first.”
After the third time, he sat still, while his eyes darted between his cup and the orange juice. We didn´t know, but Ben was about to disrupt the status quo.
A few minutes into conversations, Ben gently flips the cup over so all the content spills out onto the table. Parents are apologetic. The mum turns the cup, now empty, back up and we all scramble to clean up the spilled content.
When the commotion settled, we spot Ben pointing from the orange juice to the glass. He solved his problem with disruption and changed the status quo. There we were, a table of four adults with multiple degrees, languages and years of experience. Still Ben solves the apples and oranges conundrum before us. I said it already, smart kid.
The interesting part is that Ben didn’t know what he did was wrong. He is not old enough to know what is right or wrong yet. He observes and perceives the world around him as it is.
Try putting this in a business context:
– The new hire, not knowing what the norm is and crushing it.
– The new startup, not knowing what the industry standard is and crushing it.
– The old business overlooking an opportunity, because of a process.
And the scenarios goes on. How often do we find yourself saying “this will never work, because X, Y and Z”. What would happen if we allowed X, Y and Z to be disrupted and emerge anew. Can a short moment of disruption provide new value?
Most importantly how many times am I missing a disruptive idea, because it would break something temporarily?
Thanks Ben for teaching me a lesson at what I thought would be a casual Sunday brunch with friends.
If you want to know more about disruption, I suggest reading this article from Søren Thygesen.