Disrupt Yourself

In order to improve, not little by little but by big leaps, you have to disrupt your own operation.  Try changing some aspect of the operation radically, perhaps addressing the weakest aspect or where your users or customers are least happy.  This amounts to actively taking operational risk and so needs to be understood, assessed, with assumptions tested, and managed very carefully.  And there is always the risk that if you do not disrupt yourself, others will.

It may seem strange, but chess provides a good example.  Chess came to Europe via the Moorish invasion of Spain in 711 AD, and spread quickly.  The name originates from the Sanskrit word Chaturanga which references the four components of an ancient Indian army: the infantry (pawns), the cavalry (knights), chariots (rooks), and elephants (bishops – the Spanish for this piece is “alfil”, a derivative of “elefante”).  The other pieces were the king, and then the vizier or adviser which could only move one square at a time, and only diagonally.  Chess was at that time a very long, drawn-out game.

In the fifteenth century however, the Spanish replaced the adviser with a new, all-powerful female piece: the queen.  It is said that this was to honour Queen Isabel of Castile who had overseen the reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and also backed Columbus’ westward voyage when others would not.

The queen was a game-changer, literally.  It made the game faster and more exciting.  And the new version quickly took over from the old.

Data Source: El País newspaper

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