my breaking-point: disruptive innovation or death

visual thesaurus map proving the literal link between "disruption", "innovation" and "death"  visual thesaurus map showing the etymological link between the words “disruption”, “innovation” and “death”

The word “innovate” is born from two Latin roots:  in as in “of” or “to make” and novus as in “new”. The word “innovation” is awfully overexposed and over-used these days as the media is fixated on the idea that America will innovate its way out of this recession. No wonder the three most common business words found on the Internet today are: “disruption”, “death” and “innovation”.  Statistics no doubt fueled by the marketing mantras (and book titles) “disrupt or die” and “innovate or die”. Together, they form an interesting trifecta.

After playing with my visual thesaurus for much longer than I should have (, I discovered that all three words stem from a single word: break. “Disruption”, “death” and “innovation” belong to the same etymological family-tree, with “break” being the tree’s trunk. The broad spectrum of meaning for the word “break” includes: “stop”, “fail”, “divide”, “flee”, “solve”, “destroy”, “discover”, “reveal”, “change” and “rest”.

Sick of the words (not the concepts) “disruption” and “innovation”, yet unable to extricate myself, I love the dark irony that I’ve proven that there’s a fine line between “disruption”, “innovation” and “death”.


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