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Don’t let disruption change your ethics

Headshot of C. James Carr, President & CEO of Produce Blue Book.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an ad by Morgan Stanley, which said in part: Would you rather be the disruptor—or be disrupted?

The word, disruptor, has done a 180 over the years: many years ago, the term did not have a good connotation. Disrupting was not what you did. You went along to get along. Today, you are encouraged to disrupt. It is expected.

Many types of products have disrupted the status quo over the many thousands of years of man’s existence – the discovery of fire, the wheel, printing press, steam engine, automobile, airplane, nuclear energy, penicillin and the internet.

These, and countless others have enriched our world, and yes, they have been destabilizing as well.

Startups are, by definition, disruptive. They do not seek to simply undo or make incremental changes, rather, they seek to revolutionize processes and outcomes. Think Uber or Facebook.

The produce and transportation industries are no exception to disruption. Robots, roof top growing operations, home delivery, GMO, irrigation, driverless cars and trucks — these are either here or will be here in the near future.

Disruption is change that creates new processes, which lead to radical, productive, and efficient outcomes. We express the success of disruption in economic terms.

Startups are coined as unicorns because they have enterprise values of $1 billion or more. There are, however, other ways to think about disruption, especially ethically.

Let’s challenge ourselves to disrupt in ways that lead to improvement in not only our products and economic outcomes but in our ethics as well.

Technology is way faster than ethical and moral development. The concepts of right and wrong may not need to be disrupted, but they need to be carefully examined to insure they are up to the challenge of the fast-changing, disruptive outcomes.


Jim Carr is the President and CEO of Blue Book Services Inc.