Disruption can be described at the most basic level as an interruption. It interrupts the ongoing flow of a certain activity.

Types of disruption include internal disruptions and external disruptions.

Internal disruptions may be human error or systems failure. External disruptions can be physical or cyber attacks as well as natural disasters. Intensity ranges from minor to critical.

Disruption has a more nuanced meaning in the business context. In that world, disruption is seen almost exclusively as a challenge from outside, to the way things are currently being done.

By the time it’s noticed in the business world, the specific disruption has become a major or critical issue.

Disruption strikes right at the heart of business-as-usual thinking. The disrupted are forced to mobilise human and technical resources to deal with the interruption.

Teams and organisations may mobilise expertise & tools, as well as divert time & attention in an attempt to restore order and control. Similar to crisis management, but on a less intense level.

Disruption can be acute or play out over a longer period.

Sources: Wigg & Falbruch, Exploring Resilience (2019), Eurocontrol – Disruption and crisis management (13-09-2019)