Obama the Disruptor -- President Barack Obama's 'Disruptive' Thinking Style Supports his Critical Role in Driving Innovation for America

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President Barack Obama has become America's disruptor-in-chief. According to EdgeDweller's Susan Reed, a nationally noted innovation consultant, that's just what America needs right now - an injection of real innovation into our typical way of thinking. Operating in tandem with evolvers -- those who think simultaneously at high critical and creative levels -- the disruptor offers a highly creative, though logical - and manageable - approach to risk. Disruptors can process information in ways that can bring new ideas to light, but don't have the patience for tactical evolution. Strategists, analysts and creative types who can visually articulate ideas are all important to the process. But disruptors are rare - and they can offer a leadership role in driving large scale change.

Obama appears to have done a pretty good job of surrounding himself with thinking styles that complement his disruptor style

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions ¬- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose..."

These are the words of a "disruptor," a futurist who wants to change the game and create growth platforms that veer away from conventional ways of thinking, and in his inaugural address to the world, President Barack Obama became America's disruptor-in-chief. According to EdgeDweller's Susan Reed, a nationally noted innovation consultant, that's just what America needs right now - an injection of real innovation into our typical way of thinking.

Obama refused to hand down the stereotypical promises of a "new day" for America and the world. Instead, his carefully crafted and poetic prose evoked the promise of a "new revolution." He quoted from the scriptures. He quoted George Washington. He reminded us that the battle ahead is as perilous as those our forefathers faced in constructing our democracy.

Reed says that President Obama's election represents not only a complete change in how we view politics and social culture, but it also ushers in a new way of thinking on the presidential and economic landscapes. Operating in tandem with those who think simultaneously at high critical and creative levels - (the evolvers), the disruptor offers a highly creative, though logical - and manageable - approach to risk.

"Innovation occurs when you can throw the right measure of every thinking style at a problem," Reed says. "Of the six thinking styles (Disruptor, Evolver, Stabilizer, Optimizer, Differentiator and Ideator), an evolver can't originate the break-through answer, but give him the raw idea and he can make something happen. A disruptor can process information in ways that can bring new ideas to light, but doesn't have the patience for tactical evolution. Strategists, analysts and creative types who can visually articulate ideas are all important to the process. But disruptors are rare - and they can offer a leadership role in driving large scale change."

"That's where Obama is clearly a 'disruptor,'" Reed adds. "He puts valid original and disruptive ideas on the table. He rationalizes ideas of the future through logical path building. He prefers a managed risk approach as opposed to a risk-free approach. He partners well with others."

In his inaugural speech, Reed cites examples of phrases that Obama used that mapped out a carefully constructed and innovative plan of unified rebuilding - much of which calls for the help of the American people as much as it depends on the government. "We are ready to lead once more." "The world has changed - we must change with it." "… it is a moment that will define a generation." "It is time to begin the work of remaking America."

"This is not just transition talk, but transformation talk," Reed says. "The disruptor is focused on creating the future. For this, Obama has become a unique figure in history. The 'American-ness' of his story is that he represents an image and view of our country that seemed to be missing. His victory infers that people recognize this, too."

Reed says that while there are varying degrees of innovation, 85-95 percent of all innovations are at the low end of the scale, and focus on cost cutting and streamlining, and maybe even a little incrementalism. "That doesn't change the game," she says. "With the current economic strife, Obama's bold ideas are going to have to rest on a radical shift of American business to a culture of real innovation. That plays out in the cumulative share growth that delivers the financial return and the sustainable competitive advantage that most companies crave.

According to Reed, that rarely happens with a wild roll of the dice; it requires getting the right people around the table to tackle the problem and then giving them a systematic way to integrate innovation's four core disciplines: simplicity, original thinking, acceleration and progressive decision-making.

Reed says that most people think the genius thinking driving innovation is rare; in fact it's a process that can be learned, customized and repeated. It's just that most companies and organizations don't understand the process or know how to undertake it.

"The failure to innovate always comes back to thinking you have to have a million ideas, or that innovation can only come out of the R&D department," she said. "In reality, the genius comes with assembling well-appointed, diversified teams - including stakeholders, peers, influencers and outsiders - that can help any company (or presidential administration) achieve the productive thought that drives real innovation.

What does the future hold? "Obama appears to have done a pretty good job of surrounding himself with thinking styles that complement his disruptor style," said Reed. "I'm stubbornly optimistic that will lead to the level of genius thinking and innovation we need."

About EdgeDweller

EdgeDweller helps companies achieve category-changing innovation -those initiatives in the

market place that deliver above industry average growth rates - and sequential, substantial and

sustainable results. Visit us at http://www.EdgeDweller.net.

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Judith Webb
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