Christensen (2012) explains disruptive innovation, is a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. 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.
As companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers in their market. Companies pursue these “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of their markets because this is what has historically helped them succeed. By charging the highest prices to their most demanding and sophisticated customers at the top of the market, companies will achieve the greatest profitability.
However, by doing so, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations” at the bottom of the market. An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill Anthony (2008).
Behaviors that characterize innovative leaders are associational thinking, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting. In addition to these important idea-generating qualities, other skills are equally important when it comes to navigating the overall innovation process given the high level of ambiguity and uncertainty which is inherent when creating business breakthroughs Christensen (2008). Personal leadership competencies are essential for success in today’s environment. Creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward, boundary pushing, data- intuition integration, adaptive planning, savoring surprise.
Leaders who want to make a significant difference for themselves and their organizations need to embrace new skills in today’s increasingly disruptive competitive environment. While new behaviors are important, so are new mindsets. Leading disruptive innovation requires a new set of assumptions, many of which are based in a personal sense of humility– the recognition that we do not and cannot have all the answers, and that disruptive innovation is all about finding clarity through embracing uncertainty.
Anthony, S. (2008). How to spot disruptive innovation opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=KGzXWO_anLI
Christensen, C. (2008). Why some people are more innovative. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JNtA_jRztQ&feature=related
Christensen, C. (2012). Disruptive innovation explained. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDrMAzCHFUU