The Politics of Disruption

One of the big buzz words in business and innovation in the past few years has been ‘disruption’. In recent times, any and every invention, new business model or new technology has at some point attracted the disruption label, often without any real understanding of what the concept actually means.

That aside, the theory of disruption is a still a worthy one, and the thinking behind it has been vindicated again and again in recent times. There is one key element of disruption theory that I think is especially relevant to the current state of Australian politics, and it has to do with over specialisation.

Basically what happens is that a long running business follows what the theory calls a ‘sustaining arc’. What this means is that, over time, the business evolves to service its most influential, powerful or profitable consumers. A good case in point is the smart phone. Initially a disruptive innovation, smart phone providers have evolved to service the business and large enterprise market. Because of this, we now have a situation where it is normal for individual consumers to purchase a $1200, fully networked, multi-platform, multi-frequency communications device when what they really want is to make and take calls and post pictures of meals and cats to Instagram. In reality, the average requirements of an individual user can be achieved with a generic unit costing around $200.

In the case of politics, I believe that a similar ‘sustaining arc’ has been followed. The major political parties and the institution of government in general have evolved to primarily service the needs of its most influential, powerful and, unfortunately, profitable ‘consumers’. This means that a politician from a major party naturally has a list of priorities that goes something like this:

  1. The party executive
  2. Major donors
  3. Powerful lobbying or commercial interest groups
  4. The ordinary people of Australia

It would be both unhelpful and inaccurate to imply that any of this has anything to do with corruption. The simple fact is that this is a natural evolution brought about by the nature of the political system as it stands today. The fact that it’s natural and understandable, however, does not mean that it’s acceptable. It cannot be considered acceptable that the government of a democratic nation is pursued with little or no reference to the ordinary people who live in it.

Fortunately, the very fact that this is a democratic nation means that something can be done about it. I want to do that something. In theory, anybody can step up and have a say in how this country is run, and it is this proposition that I intend to test to its fullest limits. It must surely be possible for an ordinary citizen to stand up and do their part to re-write the narrative of Australian politics so that the people of Australia are once again a major character in it. It must surely be possible to disrupt the current sustaining arc of government and, at least in one electorate, create a model that prioritises the voters that, at the end of the day, are the primary source of any mandate to govern.

Lets find out, shall we?

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