We came across a great post on “Disruptive Innovation” in the Harvard Business Review blog by Scott Anthony. Disruptive Innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen describing technologies that change industries, largely by eating away at the edges or bottom of a market and overtaking industry leaders.
The term has been co-opted, though, to mean any form of change that causes a major shift in the status quo. It’s not uncommon, especially when you run in innovation circles, to hear debates about whether a new technology is disruptive or not.
Scott got it right: “I really don’t care” —
“Disruption is a means to an end. The goal is to build a sizable business with defensible competitive advantage that earns attractive returns. It just so happens that the disruptive innovation models and tools provide a great means to foster the creation of businesses that transform companies and markets, unlocking substantial value….”
Disruptive innovation is about market impact. No business model or new technology is intrinsically disruptive. It’s the application in the market, and the reaction of the consumer, that determines whether something is disruptive or not.
This isn’t meant to be a plug, but I have to say industry crossover is something I enjoy most about PARC. We’re able to help companies discover new opportunities and use similar core technologies across different industries, creating different types of market impact. For example, we’ve used model-based control and optimization in printing systems for Xerox, in designing a new food packaging solution, and in energy management (see our recent news about a partnership with Power Assure regarding data center optimization).
Be sure to read Scott’s HBR article, Why Do We Care about Disruption? It’s short and spot on.