We had a conversation with a prominent Silicon Valley tech consortium recently, and just had to put it out there that we are a little OVER the term “disruptive” in reference to anything and everything fintech- or tech-related. We recall another such term a decade ago plus – “value proposition” – as in “What’s the value proposition(?)”. Not being the sharpest pencil in the box, it took us a little while to figure out that what they were actually saying is “What’s in it for me(?)”. Why couldn’t they just say that instead?
And then there’s “sponsored content” and “native content” in the media industry. A generation ago, the exact same thing was referred to as “advertorials”. But that term had to be disrupted.
We’re fascinated about the origin of these terms, but as with any industry, there has to be a certain set of code words in order for people to assert themselves as being smarter than the rest of the public about their area of expertise. Anyway, back to the term “disruptive”. There’s disruptive innovation, disruptive technology and then the actual instigators – disrupters – and their victims(!) – disruptees. Then we found this term…..”disruptive innovation brings disruptive solutions”. That’s a whole lotta disruption in one sentence. Type in “disruptive technology” in a Bing search and you come up with 3,990,000 results, so obviously it’s entrenched pretty deeply in the lexicon.
We say it’s time to come up with a new term that disrupts disruption, and to remember that ALL technology is and always has been – by virtue of being forward-moving – disruptive. Could we just go back to the good old-fashioned term “innovative” for a while instead, please? It’s so much gentler. Or maybe that would just be too darned disruptive at this point. Sigh.