It is absolutely true that the most important skills in becoming a disruptive force cannot be gained in a traditional classroom. There is no college major in disruptive studies, no certificate from AMA for killer vision and no HR departments hold training classes on having guts. These semi-soft skills contain nuances that are unique to each person and only so much of their composition can be taught. They are what separates a disrupter from all the rest.
There are hard skills that are critical to success, however. And while normal people use their hard skills to be box-checkers, you can use them to create mega-value. Below are the most important hard skills for disrupters, starting with the basic building blocks to the more complex. If you lack proficiency in any of these areas, find training as soon as possible even if it is on your own dime. The investment will pay you back many times over. One last note: the best certification you can get that covers all of these is Lean Six Sigma. If your company has an LSS program, become a Green Belt candidate (or even a Black Belt candidate) as soon as possible.
- SIPOC – SIPOC stands for Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer. It is used to focus on a single process so its value can be determined. It is the first step in understanding the meaning of what you do for your customer (the recipient of your output).
- Process Mapping – Boxes and arrows that quickly and effectively communicate a process to the reader. Sometimes other shapes are involved as well. It is impossible to design a substitute without maps and SIPOCs.
- Measurement & Data Collection – This is not as easy as it sounds. Crucial data points are placed, and sometimes hidden, throughout every process. It’s important to learn what data is important and how to collect it effectively.
- Data Analysis – Making meaning out of data. Huge.
- Productivity – Generating outputs at a given speed. This is incredibly important to all organizations.
- Risk Analysis – This can get very deep, but you need to at least understand how to identify risks and quantify their likelihoods and impacts. Tons of good tools for this are available free on the web.
- Cost / Benefit Analysis – Determining the net benefit of making a change. This is your ticket to executive & customer sponsorship of your disruptive idea.
Check out the “disrupter tools” section to the left for cheap (or free) ways to get better in these areas.