Is disruptive innovation a risk?

What you should know about disruption

Disruptive - that's how you think. Because this is the only way as a company to meet the challenges of our time and remain innovative. So it is said. Disruption is currently a fashionable management term. But what is actually behind it and to what extent does disruption actually help? In this article we shed light on the concept of disruption and the prerequisites for a disruptive mindset.

Disruption - a definition

The word disruption originally comes from English - to disrupt - and translated means something like "to disturb" or "to interrupt". A disruption is consequently the interruption of a process or a non-linear development.

Disruption has established itself as a term over the past few years, and it is particularly popular at management level. But what exactly does that mean in business?

Changes used to come slowly. Processes have been adapted over a long period of time and technology has developed further. It's different today. In view of rapidly emerging major challenges, changes in the market or new technologies, disruptions arise that make paradigm shifts necessary and enable innovative developments.

Havard Professor Clayton Christensen established the term. His definition of disruptive products is as follows:

"Disruptive innovations are NOT breakthrough technologies that make good products better; rather they are innovations that make products and services more accessible and affordable, thereby making them available to a larger population. "

Christensen is convinced that three factors make a successful disruptive innovation:

"Enabling Technology, Innovative Business Model and Coherent Value Network."

Disrupt or be disrupted

When one speaks of disruptive changes with creative destructive power, it sounds like a threat. And it can be.

That is why it also says in this context: disrupt or be disrupted.

Because large companies in particular are often too slow to adapt rapidly to major changes or even to help shape them. Agile start-ups and newcomers clearly have an advantage here.

Kodak and Nokia are often cited as examples of failed large companies. They were disrupted because they didn't see the change coming and weren't well prepared for it. In the end, they have been overtaken by new competitors and innovative products.

The message of disruption is therefore: As a company, take care of the necessary change in good time, actively search for innovations instead of doing everything as before and then being surprised by the change.

Disruptive innovation needs a disruptive mindset

But innovative ideas don't just fall from the sky. Innovation needs a disruptive way of thinking. This does not mean thinking linearly but lateral. The aim is to include possible disruptions in thinking and thus to recognize innovation opportunities that would otherwise not have crossed your mind.

But how do you manage to change your thinking? First of all: unfortunately there is no approach that guarantees success or a method that one pursues and thus directly initiates the intended creative destruction. You don't turn disruptive thinking on and off. Rather, it is about changing the mindset step by step.

Sounds like a challenge ?! It is!

Requirements for integrating a disruptive mindset.

You don't just change your thinking from now on, and it certainly doesn't work out that smoothly if it affects an entire team, a department or the entire company. In order to establish a disruptive mindset, some prerequisites should first be created.

Create the right environment

Ideas arise when there is free space to be creative and try things out. Especially in areas where shift work and a high level of workload are common, one cannot expect future-oriented ideas to emerge on the side. Therefore, space must first be created for ideas. Establishing accompanied experimentation rooms in certain areas in everyday life can help here.

In addition, if you feel completely controlled by others, you will not have much motivation to think about new products or services, let alone be open to them. More self-determination is an essential element and can be achieved through collaborative deployment planning, among other things Vote2Work® .

Technical possibilities as a basis

If the working conditions are right and there is sufficient freedom, an important step has been taken. But no carpenter can work without a hammer, saw, etc. And how should innovative products be created when the technical means are still stuck in the 90s? Depending on the industry you are in, you should also provide the teams that are supposed to innovate with appropriate technical equipment.

Create understanding

As always with change, it is important to take people with you. Communication is crucial. And so the question always arises at the beginning: "Why should we do this, what is it necessary for?"

So why should we rethink and why does it have to be disruptive now? Use cases, for example, of products and companies that stuck to old customer requests and their fulfillment and were then overrun by a newcomer competitor help to improve understanding. There are certainly examples in your industry and in your company that make it clear why it is now important to rethink.

Cross-divisional networks create innovations

Establishing cross-departmental networks is a good way to break down communication barriers and build bridges. Innovations usually arise when there is an interdisciplinary exchange, when ideas are discussed and examined from different perspectives.

Knowledge has to become swarm intelligence

The right mix of experts from different areas, younger and older generations and possibly even different cultures makes the difference.

It is also helpful to give employees the opportunity to acquire knowledge, even outside of the standard seminar catalog. Because how are innovative thoughts supposed to arise if only what is learned is learned what has been taught for years? New impulses can come from external congresses, talks, workshops and webinars, for example.

And even then, you can fail

Anyone looking for great innovations, who thinks in a new way and does not always follow the same, safe path, can also fail. You have to be able to deal with this worry.

The option to fail is part of the deal when it comes to disruptive and innovative cultures. No innovation without risk. A pronounced and well-lived error culture is therefore essential. Otherwise all innovation will stall after the first failure because fear spreads that inhibits new ideas.