I love change.

And that’s a good thing given the digital, always-on world in which we live.

Things change because someone sees a problem or opportunity that others have yet to see.

Some change is evolutionary – a tweak that essentially puts a new face on an older body. These changes may help us reverse, sustain or even accelerate momentum. But at their core, they’re not innovations. True innovations disrupt.

The biggest threat to American businesses today is the failure to anticipate and adopt to the disruptive threats in their respective ecosystems.

The news media is still reeling from the rapid introduction and adoption of social technologies.

Many industries are now feeling the pain of the collaborative economy, where sharing is preferred to owning by a new generation of consumers.

There is no easy solve for that pain because there’s an army of disruptors out there, each dreaming of ways to create something that works faster, better and cheaper than the current market leader. Once ready, some are even committed to giving whatever it is they created away.

Put another way, the difference between surviving and thriving over the next five years for most established companies will be a direct result of the degree to which each creates a culture that embraces curiosity, creativity, agility, speed, courage and resilience.

Most, if not all, of these traits are present in the cultures of today’s most successful start-ups, and the DNA of career entrepreneurs.

A friend of mine is chief counsel at a major local corporation; she has a great saying: “If you want to find the culprit, follow the arrogance.”

Contrary to what any business plan may say, I believe the single biggest competitive threat to our business is underestimating the competitor we don’t yet have.

We all need to start asking more questions like “Why?”, “What if?” and “Why not?”.

That’s one of the reasons Edelman Chicago has teamed up with the folks at Chicago Ideas Week (CIW), signing on as their exclusive communications partner for the next two years.

CIW celebrates curiosity and the ideas that have been borne from it.

It’s a week filled with engaging talks from people from all walks of life, and from all over the world, who are making their mark by thinking and working differently.

And it’s a great way to kick off a year in which you’re never going to accept the status quo as good enough.

Come, join us October 14-18, and experience for yourselves the creative energy that’s burning in Chicago.

It’s disruptive. And that’s a good thing.

Rick Murray is president of Edelman’s Chicago office.

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