Avoid Destruction, Be Disruptive

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

During the early 20th Century, economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the concept of “creative destruction,” which refers to the upheaval of old processes and technologies and their replacement by more innovative ones. The difference between Schumpeter’s time and our own as far as creative destruction goes is speed.

Today, disruption is all around us, constantly. A major, game-changing product or service can move into obsolescence in mere months, as Marc Davison of 1000Watt Consulting pointed out in his presentation at the RE Tech South (RETSO) conference this afternoon.

Technology is typically a catalyst for disruption, but it’s not the only factor. In real estate, changes in consumer habits and preferences have given rise to “smart customers,” who do much of the research into how to buy or sell a home and properties on the market before contacting a real estate agent. Consequently, real estate professionals today are often contacted much later in the process than in years past.

“Where you are in the transaction, how you’re paid, and how you’re found is going to change dramatically,” Davison said. He added that practitioners can choose to be upset about this, or they can respond by recognizing these changes and shifting their priorities and skills accordingly.

The winners in business now and in the future will have a built-in disruption mentality, meaning they’ll stay on top of trends and adjust quickly instead of waiting too late to react to critical changes in their field. Davison offered Apple, a company that goes so far as to disrupt its own products, as an example of this.

Here are Davison’s 10 tips for forging a disruptive mindset:

1. Acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know.

2. Have an open mind.

3. “Nuke” nostalgia. Don’t pine for a model that no longer works.

4. Recognize that there are no perfect role models.

5. Circulate with professional networks beyond real estate.

6. Invest in innovation.

7. Listen to other people’s ideas (including consumers).

8. Hire young techies, and turn them loose on a project, like building an app.

9. Fire “Dr. No,” the naysayer who will give you several reasons why something new can’t be tried.

10. Don’t play the victim. Resolve to become a disrupter yourself.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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  1. I though Marc’s speech on disruption was intriguing. I know they were videoing the main stage at RETSO, hopefully we can see it online soon?

  2. Great tips! I must admit that I work with a few people who have a hard time with #1. I don’t believe that anyone is expected to know everything, yet so many people like to believe that they do….it just makes me laugh sometimes.