Disruptive innovation, at its simplest, explains how low-end industry insurgents take on—and eventually outcompete—high-end incumbents who seemingly should have known better Things take traction and the David beats the Goliath.
It is now generally accepted that disruptive innovation underpins the invention of new products and services. Less generally recognized, is that personal disruption in the workplace—the movement of people from one learning curve to the next, one challenge to another—can drive learning, engagement, and even innovation. Johnson claims we can build an A Team this way. Let’s explore how.
The S curve of learning
The S curve of learning represents three distinct phases:
1. The low end, involving a challenging and slow push for competence.
2. The up-swinging back of the curve, where competence is achieved, and progress is rapid.
3. The high end of the curve, where competence has evolved into mastery and can quickly devolve into boredom and disengagement.
An A-Team Is a Collection of Learning Curves
Johnson challenges us to visualize our team as a collection of people at different points on their own personal S curves. New team members will be at the low end of their curve for approximately six months depending on the difficulty and aptitude. At the six-month mark, they should be hitting the tipping point and moving onto the steep back of their learning curve. During this second phase, they’ll reach peak productivity, which is where they should stay for three to four years. At around the four-year mark, they will have made the push into mastery. In the mastery phase, an employee performs every task with ease and confidence. But ease, and even confidence, can quickly deteriorate into boredom without the motivation of a new challenge. It is time for them to jump to a new learning curve.