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Contrasting Force No. 1: Disruption and Integration

Disruptors are passionate for new ideas, especially anything that breaks an established norm. For Larry Page this passion could almost have been his downfall, as his disruptions within the company structure backfired and his desire to 'kill the advertising industry' could have removed his primary income source.[1] Lou Gerstner will never be celebrated as a disruptive innovator of products, but it was his comfort at challenging what IBM was and could be that made it possible to transform the company quickly and successfully. Elon Musk's design brief to car designers demand that every opportunity be taken to leverage unique capabilities. Where space is freed due to the electric engine, more seats are demanded, challenging typical definitions of sedan v. minivan. Disruptors can be dangerous, they can be compelled to break and destroy, and get so lost in the pleasure of pulling something apart, that they forget to reassemble something of value at the end. Lacking disruptors encourages ongoing commitment to outdated thinking. Senior leadership at Blackberry, then Research in Motion, failed to challenge internal assumptions and quickly found themselves following a market that they had established.

Disruption and integration

Figure 13.2 Disruption and integration

Integrators focus on the connections between ideas, building the ecosystem that enables the core idea. Steve Jobs was able to build an ecosystem of products and services that enabled many different disruptions to work together. George Lucas built a sprawling physical space to enable the many different research and development arms to work together and leverage one another's value. As Larry Page becomes CEO, he is focusing on the value of collaboration rather than competition, in an increasingly non-linear business space. Integrators rarely get the same celebration as the dynamic force of disruption, but it takes the integrator force to assemble things of value, out of uncertainty and disruption.

Disrupters and Integrators are both builders, but what they construct is very different.

While George Lucas was compelled to build a company to achieve a creative passion, leaders driven by technological innovation were the founders of Motorola. All three leaders of the Galvin family dynasty at Motorola were enablers of technology, active at disrupting the marketplace, but poor at integration. Bob Galvin was well known for creating a highly competitive internal environment; it was often called the era of warring tribes, where division heads and functional managers fought one another openly for lucrative financial rewards. While the digital network was being pioneered by Motorola's research and development, the mobile handset department remained analog, arrogantly ignoring the start-up companies embracing the competitive technology. Motorola has since been deeply disrupted by the behavior economy, because no strong integrator leaders were found to pilot changes.

  • [1] Carlson, N. (2014). 'The untold story of Larry Page's incredible comeback.' Business Insider,April 24. Available at: (accessed: July 18, 2014).
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