Disruption – is how social media regulates


In the context of Business continuity management, Disruption is an event which causes an “unplanned, negative deviation from the expected delivery … according to the organization’s objectives”.

In this blog, I argue that disruption is part of the governance process and is closely aligned to “Regulation”

The word “regulation” has rather lost touch with its roots. If we returned to what the word is composed of “the act of making regular” then it begs questions about why we need things “regular” at all. Why not total diversity, a free for all where nothing can be expected and choice is everything.

The act of regulation assumes that a standard way of doing things is best, and that deviation from that standard, a divergence from the rules, needs straightening out.


There is a strong theme in capitalism, that markets self-regulate. This is often referred to as “mean reversion” , the process by which everything returns to the standard way over time because the market demands it.

The demands of the market , to return to what it considers the “mean”, the standard or (to use a loaded word) the “right” way is typically considered in terms of customer buying patterns. If a product or service is mis-priced , it will ultimately return to the right price. But “ultimately” may be too long, some times Government disrupts the market’s process and accelerates a change.

An example – in financial services – is the Retail Distribution Review – which forced change on advisers and providers of financial services – abolishing commission – requiring higher qualifications and insisting on better ways to treat the customer fairly. The RDR was disruptive – still is.

But this kind of top-down disruption is informed by the political process. Political – radically – derives from Politikos and simply means “of or relating to citizens”. The market forces , on which capitalism depends, demand democracy, where the voice of citizens is heard though process.

Disruption happens when citizens demand change, understanding these demands is the job of politicians who create rules , like those arising from the RDR.



Sometimes, the market self-corrects without political influence. This is when the voice of citizens is listened to by those “out of line”. If South West Trains chooses to reduce its carriages in August and as a result people have to stand in out-dated rolling stock for hours, then pictures of unhappy customers start appearing on twitter.

This can of course work in other ways. When Lords reformed itself to allow paying customers to walk on its hallowed turf.

Or when the Pensions Regulator gets its act together

Or when a politician makes a difference, as Steve Webb did last parliament.

These comments , postings, blogs – call them what you will, go into the great electronic scrapbook called the inter web and get ordered by Google and served back to the people impacted through searches.

A friend of mine, who is on the Board of NEST told me that when she gets press clipping, half of them have comment from me. That I’m sure is an exaggeration but it is proof that if you bang on about something for long enough, you will probably get heard! You may not get fed (NB – I am owed a lunch) – nor liked. But your voice gets heard.

And your voice, like all the other other voices, creates pressure for change.

What I write is designed to get read, not just by people who like what I am saying, but by those who don’t. Those who’s way of doing things will be disrupted. If I am wrong, they will be vindicated, if I am right, they will be castigated.

Somebody phoned me up yesterday , to say that a blog I wrote about his company, “did not help my cause”. I am amazed that people still do this. I wasn’t criticising his (large) organisation, because it was rubbish, but because it was behaving in a rubbish way.  I may be wrong, I may be right- my voice is only one of many,

But “my cause” is not helped by me sitting idly by when an organisation profiteers from people’s fears about auto-enrolment. I am better off pointing out where things are going wrong and suggesting ways of doing things better. If I am wrong, then the market will tell me (which it often does).


Unplanned , negative deviation?

Organisations that threaten customers ( I am a customer) because they point out that the service is rubbish are missing the point of the self-regulatory process. In isolation, a blogger may not be right, but he or she can often be saying things that others are thinking and not saying.

So South West trains- which has an excellent Social Media strategy, came right back at me

We had a conversation, South West trains are not trying to asphyxiate customers on purpose, they just have crap rolling stock! I forgive South West trains where I won’t others, because they are always listening and to some degree trying to change.


We have an open media, many countries don’t. We can be thankful that we can all have our say with our comments and postings. Many choose not to talk on the web – no one says you should. Those who talk are rightly shot down if they talk rubbish.

But shooting people down because they are not “helping their cause” is not quite the same. Sometimes, the only way to help your cause, is to tell it like it is.

Publish and be damned, In the interests of disrupting, or correcting and regulating.



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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