Top Insights from Whitney Johnson


Whitney Johnson sees disruption as a series of innovations that industry leaders often ignore until suddenly the disruptor changes the way a whole market behaves. Imagine the disruption journey as moving from the bottom to the top of an S-curve and that every employee is at one of three places on that learning and engagement curve. Now, also imagine every organization is a collection of each employee’s journey and healthy organizations have a distribution near to the following ratios:

  • 15% of your employees are at the bottom of the S-curve. They are usually new to their roles, energetic and demonstrate a desire to grow and be creative. This group works hard to become one of the 70%.
  • 70% is the sweet spot. Employees are productive and their quality is dependable; for a little motivation they do exactly what leaders want. This is also a challenge area because it’s easy to leave them alone. Great leaders keep these people excited, creative and proud.
  • 15% of your employees are at the top of the S-curve and are your high performers. They are also your biggest problem because most masters want opportunities to grow. If you let them get bored, they will often leave… to one of your competitors.


  • Hire people for their future potential and their ability to add to your existing corporate culture. As this innovative group learns they will be loyal for years to come. If you hire masters they will quickly get bored.
  • As employees move up their learning S-curve don’t stop challenging them. Top performers need, and often want, more challenge not less.
  • When people are at the high end of their S-curve and have mastered their role, find something new for them to do that is in-line with their goals. Too often we keep them ‘right where they are’.


  • Give them a coach. Help them explore new challenges or become even greater at what they do. Don’t imagine what motivates them; ask them.
  • Help them be a coach or apprentice to a junior employee. Pair them with high-potential people in your lower 15% group and/or 70% group.
  • Give these people a stretch assignment and provide them with the support they need.

When people are bored they don’t innovate; they either leave or get disengaged. Strong leaders of healthy organizations practice disruption by providing safe and supportive environments. Build a high-performance team by helping your team see disruption as fun.

Are you a disruptor? Do you want to be a disruptor?

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