Creative Destruction

It can be very uncomfortable leading your team through creative destruction, but it is usually worth the effort. Creative destruction is an economic term coined by Joseph Schumpeter in his work entitled “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” (1942) to denote a “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”

In this post, I am stretching the term a bit to describe situations where the old is being destroyed in order to create something new in an organization. In this context, creative destruction can be caused by changes you initiate as a manger, changes initiated by your organization or changes initiated by outside factors. The destruction may be intentional or unintentional, within your control or not. Many times you or others cannot see the creative potential and see only the destruction, thus affecting your perspective of events.

How can you lead your team through creative destruction? By acknowledging that the destruction is an inherent element of its creativity. By accepting that something is being created and will result from the situation. By navigating the situation by staying aware, protecting your team, keeping them informed, helping them through, understanding what you can control and what you cannot and creating a set of values to guide you and your team through (for example, developing resilience).

Does this seem like mentation without much practicality? If yes, take a moment and think of the last time your team experienced a system, person, process or otherwise being “destroyed” and something new being created in its place. It’s a concept that may help you navigate the turbulence we all encounter as we lead and manage.