Being disruptive may have gotten you in trouble at school but in the business world it’s actually quite rewarding, says Lyndsey Simpson
It is all too easy to be comfortable with your lot and stand still. But with this approach, you’ll be overtaken by competitors and suddenly your lot won’t seem quite so good. As the American musician and all-round maverick Frank Zappa once said: “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
Progress in business comes from constantly challenging the status quo. The most successful companies and entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve upon what’s already out there. If you are not already thinking disruptively, then perhaps you should start.
The Curve Group has recently been listed as one of the top 50 most disruptive companies in the UK. Why? Because we are very different to your traditional HR outsourcing or recruitment businesses. We strive to shake things up for the benefit of customers. You’ll have your view on recruitment agencies and it’s probably not a particularly positive one. Before I joined the Curve Group, I thought the same and that’s why I so passionately believe in the importance of disruption. For a start, in stark comparison to the industry norm, we do not pay commission and we do not set individual financial activity targets for people to work towards; instead we work to a quest.
The Curve way is to create extraordinary people solutions that leave you feeling curved. This creates a culture that we’ve all bought into and means that our offices have a different feel than what you might expect. We work as a team and a creative sharing culture exists where all of our employees are actively encouraged to share their innovative ideas and question the company’s processes and ways of working.
We’ve made many friends and some enemies since entering the recruitment process outsource market in 2010. We felt it was unfair to be on the receiving end of monopolistic contracts that didn’t allow us to gain bank funding or have set payment terms from the outset. We didn’t include “pay when paid” or “non-assignment of debt” clauses in our contracts with second tier-partner agencies. This saw us take a big stand in the recruitment outsource industry. Why would we do this when it is in our benefit to keep such clauses in place? Because it’s the right thing to do. It allows smaller companies to supply to larger clients, gain funding and grow.
I have written before about the importance of creating a tribe-like atmosphere within your organisation and this is of utmost importance when striving to be different. If your employees don’t buy into the culture you are trying to create, then you really have no chance at all of being disruptive.
I caught up with Ben Rigby, one of our Generation Y employees, to get his take on things. Rigby joined us two years ago on our graduate scheme as a researcher and he is now our marketing manager. I first of all asked him what being disruptive meant to him.
“For me, being disruptive is challenging what already exists because you genuinely believe you can do better,” says Rigby. “In a business sense, those who are disruptive are innovative, they are ground-breaking and, perhaps most importantly, they challenge the status quo and move things forward. Growing up, the term disruptive came with negative connotations and was something you were always taught to avoid being in school.”
This is an interesting point to consider and reinforces for me the importance of reiterating to your employees just how they can be disruptive in all the right ways in a working sense and really make a difference. Disruption is not to be avoided in the world of work; instead it should be encouraged.
“The beauty of being involved in a disruptive organisation is that it means you don’t have to conform,” Rigby continues. “If you want to try something new or make something better, you just do it. If you believe in it then why not give it a go?”
It makes sense when you think about it. I worked for many years in a major corporate, whereas Rigby hasn’t. I was interested to see how he feels about working in a disruptive business and the opportunities it presents.
“Working in a disruptive business gives you a sense of personal empowerment; you feel like you can genuinely make a difference and that opportunities will come to you if you’re willing to work for them.” Rigby is one of many examples of individuals who have grown quickly in our business and through taking risks and giving responsibility to individuals we’ve seen them flourish. For me, this is so pleasing and, as I’ve mentioned before, I find this one of the most rewarding things in business.
I was delighted (and slightly relieved) that, when I asked Rigby if the Curve Group is disruptive, he agreed we were. “We’re innovative, passionate and proud of what we do,” he says. “I don’t want to be doing the same things as my peers; I want to be making my own path and a disruptive culture allow this.”
By the very nature of disruption you can upset those who benefit from how things currently are and don’t understand why you would want something to change. It isn’t always easy bringing others round to your way of thinking but when you truly believe in what you are doing it really is worth it when you see the positive results. Don’t stand still; make a stand.