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The Co-Disruptor Manifesto

The Co-Disruptor Manifesto

The intent of this manifesto is to help launch a ‘co-disruption movement’ so that established organizations can better fend off their respective Uber or Airbnb!

In the article Change Management Has Changed: BOARDS MUST TOO, I explained that established organizations (as opposed to start-ups) desperately need leaders who take a highly collaborative approach to disruption from within. I call these special talents the co-disruptors.

The problem is that effective co-disruptors are few and far between. To make matters worst, the good ones tend to be underleveraged. For example, they are assigned to roles in which they cannot fully work their magic.

As a result, established organizations are too slow to tackle the transformation imperatives of our digital era. They are struggling with the new nature of change which is fast-pace, constant and disruptive.


Manifesto for co-disruption in established organizations

Point #1 — Established organizations have a stark choice to make: continuously disrupt themselves or eventually become irrelevant.

Point #2 — Hence, they need disruptive talents – particularly within their leadership ranks. Researchers have started developing profiling instruments to help the board and management identify disruptive talents. That is a good start.

Point #3 — BUT if having raw disruptive talents is great for startups, it can dangerously back-fire in established organizations. The latter require leaders who continuously reinvent the business without [fully] alienating the current organization. These change leaders are co-disruptive in the sense they take a highly collaborative approach to ongoing disruption.

Point #4 — Of course, not every leader should be co-disruptive. But it is essential to have co-disruptive leaders in the C-suite; in all the innovation teams; and in the business units most at risk of digital disruption. We also need co-disruptors within the board of directors itself.

Point #5 — The intrapreneurs — those innovative people who act like entrepreneurs within larger organizations — often refer to the much-maligned `corporate immune system´ that kills their brilliant ideas. But the real problem is the lack of co-disruptive leadership in the key areas listed above. One of the implications is that before blaming the corporate immune system, intrapreneurs should ask themselves: “To which extent have I been acting like a true co-disruptor?”

Point #6 — Like The Force in the Star Wars universe created by George Lucas, internal politics has both a `dark´ and a `light´ side. The former is about playing politics for personal gains. The intent of the latter is first and foremost the good of the organization, not personal benefits. Engaging in light politics is not only laudable, but also critical to succeed as a co-disruptor. Marshalling the necessary internal and external support to bring an idea to market requires a significant amount of light politics.

Point #7 — Rocking the boat without pissing everyone off, so to speak, cannot be a solo effort. Co-disruptors know that and therefore unleash daily the amazing power of a little 4-word phrase: I-need-your-help. It requires a balanced ego and a good dose of humility.


It is customary to end a manifesto with a [SIGN THE MANIFESTO] button. Instead of such a button, why not use the comment section below?

  • If the Co-Disruptor Manifesto resonates with you, “sign up” by leaving a comment.
  • Conversely, if you feel like pushing back, please do so by leaving a constructive comment. We will all benefit from it!

I will fine-tune the manifesto based on your input and reactions…

Edmond Mellina

Edmond Mellina is president & co-founder of ORCHANGO. He is internationally respected as an expert in change management when change is fast-pace, constant, overlapping and disruptive. For over 25 years, he has partnered with public and private sector clients in Europe, North America and the Middle East to build their change capabilities while helping them win in an increasingly digital world. Prior to co-founding ORCHANGO, Edmond was a corporate executive: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; VP Corporate Development & GM for the technology business of Envoy Communications Group when marketing agencies started to become digital. Edmond serves on the National Board of Directors of the Strategic Capability Network.

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