Mad Men ended its eight-season run last Sunday. In a wonderfully poetic note, Don Draper finally had his truly disruptive moment. (Warning: There be spoilers ahead.)
In one scene, Don Draper is talking with Stephanie, the only remaining daughter of Anna Draper. (Yeah, it’s complicated if you haven’t been watching.) She admits that she has abandoned her son (a direct callback to the first season and a choice that Peggy made). Don runs out from the confrontational meeting and offers the same advice he had offered Peggy years earlier: “You can move on. Just put it behind you.” It’s so perfectly Don Draper, filled with the idea that to avoid chaos and uncertainty, you keep moving, run away. And if you do it quickly enough, you’ll eventually put it behind you. And, perhaps for the first time ever in his life, Don’s advice falls flat. Stephanie says, “I think you’re wrong about that.”
The next day, Don finds out Stephanie has gone, and he finds that he is literally prevented from leaving. There is no transportation to get him away from where he is. He’s stuck. Finally, everything – the emotional chaos – catches up to him. He is forced to go through everything he’s done. He breaks down to Peggy on the phone and says: “I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.”
Then, for the first time, he moves through it – not from it. He ultimately faces the change, the crisis, the chaos. And he finds peace. So much peace, in fact, it’s hinted that he comes up with a new, groundbreaking idea – the hilltop commercial for Coca Cola – one of the most iconic ads in history.
Okay, second story.
I just breezed (if that’s the word for skipping around) through the novelHopscotch by Julio Cortazar. It contains 155 chapters, and the author invites readers to pick their own paths. In fact, it theoretically doesn’t matter in what order you read the chapters; the story will make sense. It’s a gimmick for sure, but it is interesting for its intelligence and innovation. Its symmetry makes it oddly beautiful. And it’s a great example of intelligent content. It’s modular, scalable, reusable adaptable etc. There’s only one problem.
The story is uninteresting.
Both of these things got me thinking about disruption. Certainly that’s a popular word these days. Depending on your point of view, it may mean chaos, change, or crisis. But, ultimately, it means disorder. And if you look at content strategy vs. content marketing, or CIO vs. CMO, or technical vs. creative, data-driven vs. story-driven … every one of these have both beauty and intelligence, and all benefit from each other. Yin and yang.
And all are in disruption.
Most managers are Don Drapering it, trying to move fast enough to get away from the chaos so that they don’t have to face the change – don’t have to move throughthe chaos.
That is the road to a breakdown. Whether it’s your career, your business, that quarterly strategy – the fight with the IT Team, or the new business case to the CEO we’ve got to learn to stop running and move through the chaos.
As the Sun Salutation says, “The new day brings new hope. Lives we’ve led, the lives we’ve yet to lead. New day, new ideas, new you.” All three of those things are important.
Disruption is not just a new way of doing the same old thing. It means new ways of doing new things.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.