In Japan, the art form of Kintsugi recognises the beauty in broken things.
Instead of throwing away the broken pieces of a treasured item, the skilled practitioner will painstakingly repair and restore, welding and gluing with precious metals, reinvigorating and reviving the object with a luminescence, making it worth more than it ever was.
Cracks Of Change
Although the Kintsugi philosophy is more towards highlighting and celebrating the life and utility of an object, and that once broken, if mended, its service is continued and the imperfections are in fact celebrated and valued.
The repair of the imperfections will give new life. The object will now have revitalised function. Furthermore, the repair has exposed the weaknesses in the object and offered the craftsman the opportunity to strengthen those weaknesses.
Expanding this thought further allows the observer to see imperfections so that future objects will be more vital, stronger and creative.
The golden threads of disruption, if now seen, will create new visions for the future.
Disruption has positive effects on some industries, but on others, it means having to adjust.
Many well-established industries are fundamentally changing. New technology’s pervasiveness is shattering the old. The punishment of being left behind is irrelevant, but abandoning the old needlessly expunges valuable wisdom.
Would it not be better, like Kintsugi, to highlight what’s imperfect and revitalise it into something that the future can be proud of?
Disruptive technologies create cracks and ripples that dissipate into the disaffected parts of the economy. Seeing these cracks and ripples are the golden opportunities for astute entrepreneurs!
So, we need to realise that by looking at the existing order, there are cracks being caused by a multitude of factors, from socio-economic factors, technological advancements to climate change. Seeing this all in a different light will open our minds to new visions of value.
We can be re-wrought. We are continuously breaking ourselves apart in order to pour new learning into the cracks to make ourselves more valuable.
Disruption offers us our doom or our salvation. We can adapt and survive or, like Luddites, we can ignore change and fail. New concepts, methodologies, and practices should be embraced. If not, there is the risk of being left behind with the challenging task of catching up.
This has been well illustrated by the shared economy models embraced by Airbnb and Uber. Airbnb’s colossal rise, becoming the largest provider of beds in the world, all while offering reduced rates and alternative experiences. Uber, conceived in 2009 as a mobile taxi ride-hail company, launched in 2010, and by 2014 was already ranked within the 50 most powerful companies in America.
Note should be taken from large failed corporations like Polaroid, Kodak, Sony, Motorola, Atari, and a myriad of others who didn’t or couldn’t adjust to the opportunities that disruption presented.
What To Do?
Embrace the change that disruption offers and systematically understand the context and environment in which that change is happening.
This agile approach will, in turn, reveal the golden thread of opportunity resulting in innovation that can surmount all challenges.
Like Kintsugi, interlace what is valuable from the past with creative and strategic thinking and observe the treasure created.
This article was published with permission by the author, James Scott (CA)SA, Director and Publisher of BusinessBrief.
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