Stop Calling Things Disruptive

Stop Calling Things Disruptive

At Third Wave Fashion, sometimes we get to the point where we’ve had it with jargon, and we ban words. Here’s why you should stop calling things “disruptive.”

Truly disruptive technologies or business models are an amazing thing. Steam engines, assembly lines, the internet: these things changed the world.

But we often confuse things that are innovative with things that are disruptive. Disruption is groundbreaking; it knocks tradition back on its heels. Innovation uses new methods or new ideas. Innovation is extraordinarily important, and it can be disruptive, but it isn’t necessarily the same thing.

Truly disruptive technologies or models often fail before they succeed.

In this Forbes article, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor (and founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation), says that,

A disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.

In our world of fashion tech, there are real disruptions happening: the rise of recommerce, the adoption of non-currency and non-ownership ideas, the mass embracing of wearable tech. Let’s not undermine these disruptions by throwing the word around.

The next time you’re describing something amazing ask yourself: is this innovative, is it merely novel, or is this truly disruptive?

Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.