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What can we Learn from Disruptive Innovation ?

Last updated: Saturday November 12th 2016

Disruptive innovation is a term, created by Clayton Christensen, to describe a new invention or product that alters its market. It typically refers to innovations that result in changes on a large scale. For example, the digital camera which replaced Kodak’s traditional film cameras or digital streaming services which have effectively replaced CDs as the primary way to consume and listen to music.

With each innovation, there is risk taken on by the firm that introduces it and disruption for the users. The businesses that promote the new product or service innovation face uncertainty, in not knowing if it will succeed since they are challenging an established market. They are introducing an alternative, which, if it catches on, will mean that users have to adjust and accept a new way of doing things.

So, what can we learn from disruptive innovators which we can then apply to our own businesses? For a start, not all innovation has to be on a large-scale; small changes can make all the difference. For example, process innovation could have a positive impact on the profitability and efficiency of your business. Aim to create a benefit to your business; e.g. to reduce the time it takes to produce a product or service or a new, more efficient way of delivering your end product or service to your customers.

As with any innovative development, your employees will probably see a disruption to their day job. Perhaps they have to learn a new way of doing things or even learn how to use a completely new system. The business is taking a risk in changing what has always worked and the employees may be unsure as to how the changes will impact them. They will need time to become accustomed to new ways of working and this could create a degree of disruption across the firm.

That said, with appropriate training and change management processes, you should be able to ensure that your new innovations are adopted quickly and with minimum fuss. And as with any change in business, success is all about planning.