Disruptors vs. Evangelists – Who’s Tops? |
“Disruptors” and “disruption” have become recent buzzwords in the tech industry. You are either doing it or protecting yourself from it. The popularity of the term is beginning to replace evangelism and evangelists, but you will still see them out there. Both concepts and roles are associated with change and innovation, but they do not necessarily occupy the same space.
Both disruptors and evangelists are mentioned in the technology community as people you need to have on your team to help ensure and maintain success, as well as to stay competitive in the ever-growing, ever-expanding global marketplace. But do you need both? Can you get by with one or the other? Who is going to give you the results you expect and the competitive edge you need?
These concepts are not new to business, of course, and their meaning and intent has changed over time. The current sense of these concepts has elevated beyond basic jargon, however. Per Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru, “a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative” (Howard). Disruptors are usually create ground-breaking new technologies that displace old technologies. Think about how the PC replaced the typewriter, how mp3 players (like the iPod) replaced CDs, how mobile phones have largely replaced land-line telephones AND cameras. Since we are becoming more and more connected to technology, the opportunities to disrupt an existing market are vast. But it takes ingenuity, innovation, creativity, and good old-fashioned thinking outside the box. You must be not unlike a tornado, stirring up the landscape, and turning it into something foreign and new, in a good way.
The evangelism/ist terminology obviously originated from religious ministries, and shares some similar qualities with their pastoral bretheren, but the focus is honed in a different direction. The term “change agent” is often used as a synonym for “evangelist,” which is one of the primary functionalities of the job. “What separates evangelists and change agents from the rest of the flock, especially in large organizations where mediocrity and apathy can hide, is the intangible fire they possess. Evangelists are willing to bet their political capital and careers on that disruptive process change” (Evangelist). So, by this definition, an evangelist promotes the disruption like a cheerleader who dedicates all of their professional cheering to the disruption they believe in (or the one they have been hired to promote). It’s like singing the praises of Oz…the magical new place is full of amazing new things! Hark!
Guy Kawasaki is a prominent evangelist for hire–previously he worked for Apple, and now he works for Canva, an easy-to-use design software. He says, “Post Apple, I’ve been many things: author, speaker, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, advisor, and father, but I’ve never used the title “chief evangelist” until today. This is because the title only works if your product can change the world—or at least a significant part of it.” Apple has had a huge impact upon most of our technological lives in one way or another–disruption is key to the evangelist’s job. Without it, you have nothing to evangelize about.
So, the two roles work hand in hand. If there is no disruption, there is no evangelist. If there’s no evangelist, who’s going to know how disruptive you are being? It’s yin and yang, heads and tails, peanut butter and jelly. They just go together. But as for the question I posed earlier, who IS more important?
Well, neither. Both are important. If you are a disruptor, you’ll probably say it’s you – for you have created a Disruption. You are like a demi-god. If you are an evangelist, your fervent rhetoric will grow most fiery and passionate once you are standing on a stage with the Disruption on your sleeve, but all of that fervor will be sure to include your own praises. You are the voice of the demi-god, after all. A little bit like the Great and Powerful Oz, no?
In reality, it takes a team – there are very few people walking around with “Disruptor” and “Evangelist” on their resumes. A far greater number of people have played a part in disrupting an industry and promoting it for the technological wonder that it is. You need look no further than the development team, the marketing team, and the sales department at your local disruptive company. You know these people. You play tennis with them on Saturdays. Your kids swim on the same swim team. They don’t look like demi-gods, nor do they come across as drivers of tornadoes, nor Oz (though they may look a little bit like that man behind the curtain). I’m not saying they don’t have some special sort of magic to work as part of a team that impacts our world as greatly as modern innovations like GPS and Skype and Netflix, but most disruptors and evangelists don’t act as individuals in a silo. They are teammates who high five each other out on the tech pavillion floor when their drone captures a juicy GoPro video for all the industry to see at their annual professional conference. Go team!
If you are looking for disruptor AND evangelist teammates in the BPM or CRM industry, TechCORE MSS is the perfect fit to fill in with extensive expertise and commitment to success that is required for the kind of progress that causes disruption. In a good way. Contact us at email@example.com or by calling us at (703) 337-4300.