Aggressive Disruption is the New Normal

DEEGAN ON LA-You know the feeling-- that things just aren’t like they used to be, whether it’s housing, zoning, civility or politics, but you may not appreciate the dynamic that is interfering so successfully with a change in the status quo.

Welcome to the disruption model of doing business. Fittingly, the root of this word that brings us so much stress is “rupture,” or, the tearing apart. 

Much in our current environment of disruption has come from Silicon Valley and the business models used to upset the media landscape when, supported by venture capitalists, we witnessed the creation of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, some of the best-known media disruptors. 

Who needs a regular newspaper when you can get your news from a Facebook newsfeed

According to the Pew Research Center, “as of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often.” 

Who needs Madison Avenue's mad men to sell advertising space across thousands of print and broadcast media when Google Ads can provide one-stop shopping,segmented by data, reaching the specific targetsadvertisers want? 

Who needs talking heads when Twitter tweets now come so fast and furiously that they are hard to keep up with. White papers, political analysts with their profound conclusions, and the Sunday morning network political talk shows have real competition when politicos can dominate the news cycle with just a handful of words fed to a base of followers. 

Not all disruption is negative, as anyone whohas used a ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber will agree. Or, how about someone whouses Movie Pass to get deep discounts on movie tickets, disrupting the traditional box office sales function? 

Furthermore, notall disruption is immune from “disruption reversal”that comes when someoneor some group’sheavy push back helps to disrupt the original disruption. 

The Beverly Grove and Miracle Mile neighborhoodsare not taking lightly what they see as the disruption to their communitiesthat will come from the Transit Neighborhood Plan(TNP) designed by the city’s planning department that would up-zone their neighborhoods.A local community leader and former city planner has organized opposition to the Purple Line Extension Transit Neighborhood Plan and has been writing a series of push-back articles in CityWatch (itself a disruptor that regularly challenges what’s being done by the city). His cogent arguments against TNP contend that the plan is a scam and a bamboozle.  

One of the newest visible disruptions in the city are the dockless electric scooters we see whizzing along sidewalks and city streets. In an act of ultimate disruption, thesescooters were dropped into cities without notice, forcing residents and politicos to scramble to react. Some believe the sheer disorganization surrounding the proliferation and use of these scooters could result in a huge legal liability for the city, especially if the city delays regulation and accidents occur. 

Although Councilmember David Ryu (CD4) introduced a Motion for Dockless Bike Share Systems /Pilot Program and Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) entered his own motion,“Electric Scooter Companies-Operation in the City-Cease-and-Desist,”it's taken Mayor Garcetti’s disrupting the disruptors to have real effect by jawboning at the highest level. 

Recently, Garcetti had a one-on-one meeting with the founder of one of the scooter companies during whichhe issued a warning and an invitation. He cautioned against going too fast with implementing a scooter program until the city figures out, going forward, how to develop sensible policies; he has asked the scooter companies to work with the city. Considering that any motion needs the signature of the Mayor to become a city ordinance, his leadership is crucial and adds strength to Ryu’s and Koretz’ efforts to disrupt the electric scooter company disrupters – a good example of reverse disruption throughpolitical leadership. 

Everywhere, from City Hall to your own backyard, from the Mayor and City Councilmembers to you and your neighbors, disruption can be smartly managed andresultscan be achieved. It’s become the new normal not only to live with disruption -- but to push back against it.


(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose DEEGAN ON LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appear in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at timdeegan2015@gmail.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.