Success, both career-wise or company wise, is awesome. There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching your new product crush it, or working your tail off for a promotion and then getting it. When it happens, celebrate, relish it, shout from the hilltops. Then get paranoid.
The major downside of success is that (in most) it breeds complacency. The hunger and drive that got you the promotion or the idea for the new product may take a back seat as you optimize and grow. Executives and entrepreneurs with winning track records know that these are the times when it’s important to self-disrupt before you self-destruct.
Because if you or your organization isn’t thinking about how to beat its own product, someone else definitely is.
The signs that your business needs disruption
Think back to the last time that you or your executive team rolled out a major new initiative — either a product, work method or process — at your organization? If you can’t, it’s time to disrupt. More and more of the workforce (read: Millennials) is increasingly adaptive and, even more so, thrives on change. Change is exciting and it suggests growth and movement.
Every month, measure the number of new ideas your employees are bringing to the table. If they’re not, you may have created a culture that is unwittingly stifling innovation, or has a “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude. If you discover this is happening in your business: disrupt.
Lastly, if you have a product that is on its way to market leadership and your competitors appear to be far behind you: disrupt.
How to introduce disruption at your organization
Disrupting your business or products doesn’t require throwing away everything that you’ve worked so hard to get right. It can be done in moderation and still produce great results. After all, what better use of your new funds is there than to use them to protect your future?
One moderate way to disrupt your business is to actively ask your employees for new ideas, and then spend time working on them.
At my company, Arkadium, we have a twice yearly “Idea Jam” where employees submit ideas for new products or improvements to the organization. For two days, we split into teams of six and dedicate our time to working on a handful of those ideas. Our most recent “Jamkadium” produced such diverse results as a laptop purchase plan and a new algorithm to optimize an older product.
How to self-disrupt your career
The principles of self-disruption can be applied to your personal career as much as your company.
If you work in a business that you can see is not actively pausing to check in on progress and innovation, that’s a problem.
Ask yourself: “Where do I want to be in a year – or three years, or five years – from now? Is this role, and my manager, helping me get there?”
The days of staying at one company for thirty years are long gone. If you’re finding that your personal progress is stalling, that’s a sign that it’s time to self-disrupt.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.