Don’t disrupt government. Revolutionize it.

I’ve always been cool to the term “disruption,” especially how it has recently been used to address changing the way government works.

“Disruption” has a ring that’s unappreciative and dismissive of hard-working public servants. It paints a picture of bureaucrats unwilling to think different. Its hint of arrogance that “we know better and will do it with or without you” has always bothered me.

Fortunately, we now have a more productive, collaborative alternative.

During his TechCrunch Disrupt keynote, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey called for an alternative, settling instead for “revolution.”

Below is an excerpt of what best summarizes why the latter is more appropriate with respect to civics, and how those leading the “government disruption” charge should re-evaluate the semantics behind it.


“Disruption is like an earthquake. Disruption has no purpose. It has no values. It has no organizing principle. It has no direction, and it has no leadership … This is not what we want to bring into the world.

“What we want to bring into this world is revolution. Revolution has values. Revolution has purpose. Revolution has direction. Revolution has leaders.

“Revolution looks at the intersection ahead and pushes people to do the right thing, and it doesn’t always have to be loud. It doesn’t always have to be violent. It’s just as powerful in its stillness.

“We don’t want disruption where we just move things around from point A to point B. We want a direction. We want a purpose, and we want to combine forces and we want to cooperate to get there.

“What I challenge you do to today is pick a movement. Pick a revolution and join it … Pick something that you believe in. Pick something you want to make an impact in and then question everything and be a founder and be an entrepreneur inside those organizations and inside that movement.”


About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

1 Response

  1. How very non-entrepreneurial of him. As Jack should well know by now, when presented with a problem, the solution is not always immediately apparent. Hense the agony, experimentation, zigzagging, and seemingly non-coherent activities of most startups – all of which is necessary to figure out how to make something better. 
    If you know which direction you should be going in, there probably isn’t that much of a problem in the first place. Maybe before “joining movements” or “distributing the future”, start listening to which problems exist in places where “the future has not arrived” and find out what their markets need. Disruption is not a pleasant condition, certainty is absurd. #voltaireparaphrased


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