Boss Lady

What do a Harvard MBA and burlesque have in common with disruption?


A few months ago I started my first Burlesque class and was accepted for the Harvard Business School MBA subject “Disruption and Innovation”.  You may wonder what have these two topics got in common with each other. Heaps. They are both methods and ways to get immersed in new thinking, change and the result that comes from stepping outside of the square. Having the guts and courage to keep learning and be exposed at Harvard to one of the top minds in the world, Professor Clay Christensen.

I would like to suggest that this approach of mine a few months ago came from wanting to keep my Creative thinking coaching current in areas that could help my clients and myself be more effective and innovative in their business and career. We do not have to prance around in Burlesque gear to create new ways of thinking. For me and my classmates at Harvard our thinking on the art of well-designed Disruption is no different than looking at Kylie and Madonna. They keep growing and reinventing themselves for their audiences. Disruption is the key when done with expertise to unseating competition and gaining new market traction with products that come in under your competitions radar.

This is what I have learnt from Harvard so far. The art of Disruption is incorrectly used by most as a throwaway line. “We are Disruptors of our industry with our product”. For many it is a tired way of saying our programs and products are great, new and challenge current thinking. Most are not. These are boring ways of marketing past a used by date. My way forward with the Harvard Disruption knowledge is to have the smarts to put together a way to challenge your existing Business model and Niche. By creating new programs, products that are developed at a lower level than competitors. Taken to Market and then you begin the slow rise up the food chain to Disrupt and Challenge your competitors.

Let me give you an example. Airbnb is a Disruptor of the accommodation industry. They began offering low cost alternatives for accommodation globally. A smart model which was a win win for all, providing low cost apartments, rooms and homes for travelers. Instead of high priced hotels. This Disruption has been successful as there is a unique opportunity to live as a local when you book with Airbnb. The hosts are happy as they get an additional income and make new friends.  People are important in this example. We want to feel connected and acknowledged especially when travelling which is what happens with Airbnb hosts. They are our connection to the new part of the world we have entered. Yes, hotels provide concierge services but many times they do not have their ear to the ground on unique and local hang outs, bars, restaurants, shopping, galleries, concerts that smart locals love.  This is Disruption at its best thanks to Airbnb. And my Burlesque experience was that too. I could have gone along to a safe and beige dance style class. Instead the 8 weeks with 10 other girls made me get in touch with the Femme Fatale that sits within. We all have her but many times she stays hidden in subterranean depths. I was taken into new ways of moving, confidently shaking my bootie, boobs and standing tall and proud at 5’ 2”. A new experience and Disruptive in the area of Dance style classes and programs on offer.

Imagine the results that Disruption would add to your business. Think for a moment about your offerings and ask yourself this? Do you need to revive parts of your menu and how could you do this? To bring in new clients, give yourself a boost and grow financially. An important point always. Here are some thoughts to get the Disruptive part working.

  1. What areas of your profession need a shake up? Meaning have you been offering the same sustaining projects and business models for some time. Have you always had thoughts about creating new projects but not had the courage either as an employee, partner or business owner. Well now is the time to start thinking and put together a smart, sassy program that people need.
  2. Start with a low budget for the way ahead. This is the core of Disruptive thinking as taught by Harvard. And a way to give your competitors a run for their money. Some suggestions are to think about the ways that Online share trading has put a hole in traditional Stock broking companies. I like to think being the foodie I am that Farmers Markets are Disruptive to the big Supermarkets. We like to buy fresh high quality products at a price that many times is much lower than supermarkets. All you have to do is go through the enormous numbers of online stores and see where the growth is. Online shopping has challenged department stores. They initially resisted this market but now realize it is essential to their survival.
  3. To start the Disruption process get yourself Disrupted. Sign up for a program, course, attend events that put you out of your comfort zone. What this does is, it gets the Creative circuit in your brain firing on all cylinders. You begin to open up to new possibilities to grow your business or leverage your career in ways perhaps never thought. Have the courage and just do it
  4. And finally all that is needed to be a Disruptor is to commit to an Action plan. One that has a start and end date. Become an Olympic athlete who is heading to the next Olympic Games with a big desire to win as many gold medals as possible. We all have the potential to shake up our career or business. Many times all that is needed is to find a new way to think, to create and the inner resolve to go out and do it regardless of the excuses that our inner self champions. Many including myself know those “Protector controller” parts but I believe when we embody our Inner Burlesque queen or whatever else turns you on and combine them with a good dose of the best Disruptive knowledge we have Superwoman powers.  Go forth and Disrupt.

About Sally Arnold

Sally Arnold is an award winning author, speaker and business coach who specialises in moving individuals and organisations out of ‘stuckness’. She is able to turn around challenges towards resolution and success through her innovative business Creating Encores. Sally began her professional life as a flautist, launched her own successful gourmet cookware shop, and was then headhunted by a Melbourne store to reinvigorate their homewares department. Combining this business experience with her passion for the performing arts, she won the coveted role of Head of Business Development at The Australian Ballet. Fascinated by the successful mindset techniques of high-performing artists, she became aware of how well they could be translated into the business world to bring creative solutions to business challenges. She has also trained as a psychotherapist. Sally’s personal journey through enormous highs and challenging lows has been woven into the structure and learning in her book “Creating Encores”, published in 2013.

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