Embracing Disruptive Innovation: Why It’s Important for Your Business


Disruption is good for business. It’s global and can happen in any industry, at any time.

“Disruption” is a popular buzzword, but if you stop and think about it, experiencing disruption is not something we, as people, enjoy. Disruption is massive, rapid, and most likely permanent change, and that can be difficult to go through. But disruptive innovation is important to stay vital, and any business needs to embrace innovation technology and the turbulence that goes with it.

Defining “Disruptive Innovation”

A good rule of thumb about innovation can be summed up by Facebook’s guiding principle: “If we don’t invent the thing that will kill Facebook, someone else will.” Being complacent in any industry is a good way to ultimately be blindsided by another company. Don’t forget, for example, that Netflix, early on in its life, went to Blockbuster and offered itself for sale. Blockbuster didn’t see any reason to embrace Netflix’s movies-by-mail, and now it’s little more than a footnote in an industry it once controlled.

Disruptive innovation is something that alters your product lines, services, or business model in fundamental ways. Think of the shifts of cabs from per-mile charges dispatched by radio to Uber-like models where cabs are called by app. So, how do you spot areas you should shake up, and how should you do it?

Killing The Sacred Cow

It’s a common experience: Somebody new brings up a customer-requested feature and gets the response, “That’s just not workable.” The problem with this statement is that there are a host of assumptions behind it that nobody ever questions. It may not have been workable a year ago, or even quite literally impossible a year ago. But more and more, what’s impossible just a year ago is not only possible now, somebody is working on it.

So, when something is dismissed this way, it’s worth asking why and seeing if those reasons still hold up. If not, it’s time to make it happen.


Disruption can happen with shocking speed.

Look At Competitors

Many in business like to use the metaphor of a jungle to say the bigger you are, the stronger you are, and the easier it is to squish the little guy. But this metaphor tends to forget the little guy is still around because he learned how to survive, whether by being faster than the big guys or a lot tougher than he looks. So look closely at small, scrappy competitors in your industry, and what they’re offering. You might see a disruption coming before it hits.

Scan The Horizon

Finally, you should constantly be scanning the horizon for new technology. It’s easy to forget that many innovations find their ultimate use well away from what was intended. All the technology NASA pioneered in the process of getting to the moon and traveling further into space has wound up in your kitchen, on your feet, in your car, in your pocket, and in thousands of other places you’d never expect. Looking outside your industry, at the raw materials you use, at the technologies that underlie your business, and elsewhere, can help you spot enormous change before it rolls through.

Innovation technology can be surprising in how it changes your business, but you should be ready to innovate no matter what. If you’re ready to innovate and find the future of your industry, IdeaScale can help: download our disruptive innovation infographic today.

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