Do you believe that revolutionary change begins with a disruption?

Change is difficult, yet a constant in our individual lives, family lives, and in the lives of businesses and organizations across the world. Change is, as “they” say, inevitable and often becomes more difficult as we age. The #1 reason change is difficult: resistance.

When we discuss health and wellness, CHANGE is often a major component. Harvard Health Publications discusses “why it is so hard to change unhealthy behavior – and why you should keep trying” in a recent article. We may understand that change is a process, not an event…but how exactly do we go about creating change and how could the senior living industry benefit?

One question that I often ask, (which ironically I sometimes don’t for fear of “disruption”) is directed toward Senior Management or Leadership at retirement communities and senior living organizations across the country. Let’s assume the CEO or Executive Director is a 55-year old individual.  When asked directly, “Would you move to this community in 15 years? Or even 20 years?” – there is almost always some hesitation before a response.  Then, if I probe for more detail by asking, “Would your wife, husband, or significant other move here in 15 years?” – most often the response is a smile, laugh, or awkward silence. WHY? Or perhaps the more obvious question is WHY NOT?

For starters…there are many misconceptions and inaccurate perceptions about “retirement” and “senior living.” The terms themselves often carry negative connotations. Many organizations are discussing this topic in articles like: Huffington Post’s retirement article, “Let’s find a new word for retirement” and NPR article, “Maybe we should ‘retire’ the word ‘retire,” as well as LeadingAge‘s article titled “Updating the language of aging.”

So, what does it take to initiate change?

Wikipedia defines and describes “disruptive innovation” as: “A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks, but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other’s sustaining improvements. Sustaining innovations may be either “discontinuous”[1] (i.e., “transformational” or “revolutionary”) or “continuous” (i.e., “evolutionary”).”

Luke Williams, author and authority on disruptive change addresses this issue:

Patrick Forth of BCG offers insights on change management in his TED talk: “Technology disruption meets the change monster…who wins”

What are your thoughts about a disruption in senior living / senior housing / retirement living? We would love to hear your thoughts – join the conversation using hashtag: #disruptretire and  

We live in an extraordinary time ignited by powerful technology, new research in health and wellness, and a Boomer population that will change the face of our industry. The senior living sector is poised for positive change.

As we often say at Wellzesta…Today’s senior living organizations have the opportunity to evolve from being “healthcare providers” to “integrated wellness providers” and a bit of disruptive thinking may just get us there.

Kyle Robinson

Written by Kyle Robinson

Kyle is a Co-Founder of Wellzesta, a mWellness technology company specializing in senior adult health.

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