The two types of disruptive technologists

OSS is an industry that’s undergoing constant, and massive change. But it still hasn’t been disrupted in the modern sense of that term. It’s still waiting to have its Uber/AirBnB-moment, where the old way becomes almost obsoleted by the introduction of a new way. OSS is not just waiting, but primed for disruption.

It’s a massive industry in terms of revenues, but it’s still far from delivering everything that customers want/need. It’s potentially even holding back the large-scale service provider industry from being even more influential / efficient in the current digital communications world. Our recent OSS Call for Innovation spelled out the challenges and opportunities in detail.

Today we’ll talk about the two types of disruptive technologists – one that assists change and one that hinders.

The first disruptive technologist is a rare beast – they’re the innovators who create solutions that are distinctly different from anything else in the market, changing the market (for the better) in the process. As discussed in this recent post, most of the significant changes occurring to OSS have been extrinsic (from adjacent industries like IT or networking rather than OSS). We need more of these.

The second disruptive technologist is all too common – they’re the technologists whose actions disrupt an OSS implementation. They’re usually well-intended, but can get in the way of innovation in two main ways:
1) By not looking beyond incremental change to existing solutions
2) Halting momentum by creating and resolving a million “what if?” scenarios

Most of us probably fall into the second category more often than the first. We need to reverse that trend individually and collectively though don’t we?

Would you like to nominate someone who stands out as being the first type of disruptive technologist and why?

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12 Responses

  1. Innovation (creation) mostly happens at the intersections of two industries (forces), the disruptor (a stranger in the strange land) glimpses at a non-existing future with his/her imagination. He/She sees the future before anyone else does (or has some insights into the past) and tells everyone a story of how great it is going to be. Steve Jobs and Wozniak, together, did this in 1984 when their first personal computer was released. They took on the mighty IBM, never toe’ing the line. Steve studied his competitor’s strengths and weakness and knew what their products were lacking something he could OFFER at the time (Important Note: The WHEN was important). Apple persuaded the public personal computing was desirable/fashionable… the trendy personal computing era was born. Steve, brilliantly, surrounded him with the correct puzzle pieces (people, technology etc.) to make the full picture real.

    Those who stand head above the rest have an unbending intent to BE different and creative, they don’t try, they just ARE… they paint on the canvas of life with an imaginative brush of creativity which hypnotizes others into that future. The outcome BECOMES theirs because of an intrinsic WILLingness to TAKE ACTION. This is what projects them as “visionaries” in the eyes of others. but they are just doing less thinking than doing. Sounds like a paradox. They forge (transmute) ideas (Lead) to an unseen reality (Gold) which they BELIEVE in. They are are Masters at manifesting their own reality, their influence on others equate to a black hole pulling everyone into its center (reality). Great opportunities (ideas in thought form) escape many of us when we are stuck in the endless loop of thinking – “procrastination”. So beware, an idea or thought is projected into the universe just by thinking it and you are offered a minimal chance by the cosmic to ACT on it, if you miss the chance it will be passed onto someone else that will make it REAL, this is the universe’s nature. The universe applauds (rewards) action not thought.

    Moogsoft is mixing some great ingredients together (DevOps, ML, AI etc.) – Ex Micromuse CEO’s

    It is never the what, it is always about your WHEN…

  2. Marius, Wow! Some powerful words in your reply there! You’re really passionate about tech and innovation aren’t you?

  3. It is a love and a passion to speak/write words that are allegorical in nature, these are principles that are deeper than the topic, and older than any written text. I endeavor never to give instructions but leave it up to the reader to see beyond the words. Philosophical, but rich in information, beyond what can be heard and read. The “point of the exercise” is not the exercise… another paradox only you can appreciate once SEEN.

    I leave you with another story:

    “Once there was a prisoner who was jailed in a dark prison in what he thought was a great fortress. The cell was dark and damp. There was a tiny window with bars on it. The rest of the cell was so dark he could not see the other three walls. The only wall he could make out was the wall with the window in it. The only light the room received was from this window. Occasionally the prisoner would manage to climb up to the window and look out on the world outside. If he stretched and looked, he could see a little bit of the life-giving sun out there.

    For the first five years of his imprisonment in that prison the prisoner stayed in the tiny patch of light thrown in through the window. He never ventured past the edge of the little square of light. But then he became restless. The prisoner started to move a little bit at a time deeper into the darkness of his prison cell. He moved a few inches a day. After what seemed like a year he had found the left-hand wall of the cell. It took him much less time to find the right-hand wall as he was becoming more confident.

    Then he began to search for the wall opposite the window. As he went deeper and deeper into the darkness of the cell he thought of turning back. But his curiosity drove him forward. In the darkness of his cell he found the back wall had a door. And the door was open!

    The door had always been open. The door led to a passage, which led him out of the dark prison, into freedom and the life-giving sun. His imprisonment had all been in his mind.”

  4. Interesting story Marius. Interesting that the prisoner lasted 5 years before exploring. Do you think that the longer the prisoner was there, the less likely he was ever going to escape (Pavlov conditioning)?

    Still, your story is an interesting one in terms of OSS because we are often constrained by our an unwillingness to look very far beyond our current situation.

  5. Just a story, so time is completely relative here. How many people do you know who have felt trapped in their own situation for more than 5 years, mostly playing a blame shame game and not doing much about their situation except investing their life energy into perpetuating the lie it is but cannot be seen? The dark and light in this story can be perceived according to the prisoner’s point of view… but do not limit your perception to this alone. This concept centered around freedom/captivity and light and dark can be extended to fit any two opposites in the plane of duality, allegorically that is. It is, after all, a hologram of itself in every facet (microcosm and macrocosm). Principles exist that are tied to natural laws, these can be found in many such stories… if you are interested I will share a pdf document with you around the principles.

    A belief built on the fear of “something” is a domination based system that detests freedom. The rules of the game do not allow the participants to explore, these actions are not rewarded and the “fear of the dark”, as in this case, is reinforced i.e. trained by the mind itself. An illusionary encapsulation is cleverly constructed by the person (unknowingly) or something external (knowingly) as an illusion to keep energy trapped in a certain state that serves the captors agenda (ego or consensus). If the prisoner dares to move to dominion his fear is a by-product of programming, by taking a leap of blind faith (no pun here) and ignoring his fear and facing them head on he realizes the cage was open all along. The thing he most wanted was hiding in the thing he most feared. Profound don’t you think.

  6. I can put my hand up to answer your first question Marius. I was in a prestigious consultancy for over a year, but hating it. It was in telco, but not OSS or other areas of passion. But the plus was that I founded PAOSS during that time as a way of staying connected to what I am passionate about.

  7. Good, but the question is did you step into the darkness or did you stay in the light? What is more important, what have you BECOME?

  8. I think it’s more about what I’m becoming, rather than become (a career journey rather than destination). But to answer the question, definitely on a better route along that journey (light) than where the other path was leading (darkness).

  9. That Stanford graduation speech is a bit of a classic isn’t it Marius? He gave some really inspiring speeches along the way didn’t he?

    This one is one of my favourites because of the clarity and simplicity of the message…. and because of its cross-over relevance to OSS.

  10. Good, you are becoming more of who you already _ _ _?

    Sometimes the path into the darkness is the path into the light and the opposite is also paradoxically true. This and others stories show this phenomenon clearly and bring about the deeper question “Is there only evil in the dark and only good in the light”. Refer to the Yin and Yang sign for insight into this concept, its symbolism ties strongly into gender for most people but its underlying principle is applicable to all polarities.

    Warm cannot exist without cold, they differ in degree but are measured on the same scale. It is a form of energy (an abundance or a lack of). The multiplicity on this subject matter is fascinating and holographic in nature.

    Careers have a shelf life that you will outlive. If you love what you do, it’s freedom. If you do what you love, it’s happiness. Which one to choose? Strange concepts again but there is more to them than just the words!

    “The steps of getting there are the qualities of being there” – Lazaris

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