Caught in the Headlights of Disruptive Innovation.

Exploding DsruptionThis past weekend I had an extended period of re-reading about the effects of disruption that seems to be occurring across all points of business, our politics, our governments, it seems across our lives.

I had been looking forward to a nice break up in the mountains of Switzerland, in a place near St.Moritz for five days of some walking, catching up with good friends over some great meals.

The evenings playing different card games or board games, as the temperatures dropped outside to minus six centigrade, the competitive nature raised the inside temperatures significantly. All good plans sometime get disrupted.

Regretfully a few days before, I ‘pulled’ some ligaments around the knee and this rendered the walking to some pretty tame stuff but the company, food and drink seemed to compensated a little I must admit, it eased the pain.

So I had some time on my hands so I decided to go back over the whole area of disruption to get a broader understanding and how this is driving so much within our innovation activity at present.

Disruption is all around us, coming at ever-faster speeds Continue reading

Exploring Diffusion and Adoption for Innovation – Part 3

Dealing with DarwinOne of my favorite books is “Dealing with Darwin– how great companies innovate at every phase of their evolution” written by Geoffrey Moore. It is well worth a read.

When you work through his other books and connected thinking of “Crossing the Chasm” and “Inside the Tornado” you really appreciate the learning stories coming out of Roger Moore’s studies of the Technology Adoption Life-Cycle.

We all need to rethink a lot as the new challenges come rushing towards us. In his work Geoffrey Moore talks about ‘traction’ and I think this is a great word for thinking about how to gain diffusion and adoption in product, service or business models, to gain market and customer acceptance.

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Exploring Diffusion and Adoption of Innovation – Part 2

Finding itThe future within our engagements will determine diffusion and adoption

It is all about letting go but also grabbing more at the same time, and then finding ‘it’.

Technology has opened up the door to both scale and fragmentation and social business is the one pushing through this open door. We are increasingly facing the Collaborative Economy everywhere we turn. Social business is becoming the denominator of success or failure.

We are needing to confront the new questions that are emerging

New rules are emerging – you could say new theories – and where are these fitting within the corporate mindset?

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Exploring Diffusion and Adoption for Innovation – Part 1

Theory and RealityAccording to Professor Clayton Christensen and drawn from his book Seeing What’s Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change”, by Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth published by Harvard Business School Press, the only way to look into the future is to use theories.

The best way to make accurate sense of the present, and the best way to look into the future, is through the lens of theory.” The theory of innovation helps to understand the forces that shape the context and influence natural decisions.

This might not be fashionable for many because as soon as you introduce “theory” into the discussion for many of my practical colleagues they want to dismiss it.

Going back to Christensen “good theory provides a robust way to understand important developments, even when the data is limited. “Theory helps to block out the noise and to amplify the signal”.

Diffusion of Innovation Theory is important for our innovation understanding

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Innovation Job Chasing – A Race Needed To Win

There are times when we all have to “up our game”. We are entering one of those periods where we have to relearn how to compete, how to win. The world is in the throes of some dramatic changes and the innovation gloves have to come off. Innovation capacity in many countries needs a new, more robust solution.

I wrote about “The present jobless innovation era we face” raising up the theory that Professor Christensen points towards, that we are working on the wrong types of innovation to create jobs. We are measuring our businesses in financial metrics that were more designed for periods of scarce money supply and not what most of our companies have today, cash in abundance, sitting on their books and a world ‘awash’ of cheap money. Professor Christensen calls this theory of his “the Capitalists Dilemma.”

Risk-aversion is dominating our Western thinking

The present situation is that we are in a period of risk-aversion where the innovation ‘bets’ are more incremental, more short-term pushing for greater utilization of existing assets that are designated by Professor Christensen as “sustaining or efficiency” innovations. He believes we need more “empowering innovation” – those that create jobs and invest capital across longer-term horizons than today. Continue reading

The Present Jobless Innovation Era We Face

Over the last few months I have kept going back and forth on Professor Clayton Christensen’s paradox he has named “The Capitalist’s Dilemma.” This ‘hit the world’ when he wrote a piece in the New York Times last November, 2012. I gather this has been one of his best, if not his best read article ever.

As I’m sure you are aware Professor Christensen must be regarded as if not the top, then one of the top experts, on innovation. For me he sits at the top, so when he explores a theory, you stop to think about what he is trying to explain. It takes some of us mere mortal awhile to grasp and relate to these ideas and theories.

Theories into solutions sometimes is a long wait for wrong reasons

Firstly an aside, I need to get this off my chest. Although I suspect a book will eventually emerge, perhaps only next year 2014, far too often this is a little later than preferred or when really needed. The ‘currency’ or present day relevance often suffers from this parallel world of academics, moving on a much slower level. They are still working within the publishing strictures and structures where a book has to be firstly written, reworked, proofed by editors, printed, bounded and distributed.

As you might guess here, I just wish some of these breaking theories that emerge from the academics could be sped up, they are seemingly just caught up in the dogma of rigour, validation and peer review. Weighed down in this legacy they often fail to provide the valuable insights that can alter the present day where the theory or dilemma has arisen. That valuable thinking to address the very problem we need a solution too is today not having even further debate after a book comes out, sometime in the future. We need to begin to travel the road, not just survey it! Continue reading

Why we often can’t self-disrupt

In the past few days I enjoyed listening to a webinar by Clayton Christensen and Max Wessel for the Forum for Growth and Innovation, a Harvard Business School research centre initiative.  The Forum for Growth and Innovation seeks to develop “breakthrough theories to help businesses become more successful innovators and create new, robust sources of growth”.  The webinar was all around surviving disruption but discussed also “looking beyond the horizons”.

The Theory of Disruptive Innovation

To offer a quote from the Forums own website (www.thefgi.net.):  “Disruptive innovation describes 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”.

“An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill. Characteristics of disruptive businesses, at least in their initial stages, can include: lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and simpler products and services that may not appear as attractive as existing solutions when compared against traditional performance metrics”.

The webinar raised in my mind many unanswered questions. Continue reading

Innovation is simply in crisis near you.

Over the weekend I was enjoying my cappuccino and suddenly it started to taste bitter, not from the actual coffee but from what I was settling down to read.

I enjoy a lot of what Steve Denning writes and his series in nine parts on “Why Amazon Can’t Make a Kindle in the USA” (start here http://onforb.es/oK1Cxh ) has really hit home on the seriousness we are facing in Western countries over innovation capabilities.

He mentions the “decades of outsourcing manufacturing have left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-tech products that are key to rebuilding its economy”, as noted by Gary Pisano and Willy Shih in a classic article, “Restoring American Competitiveness” (Harvard Business Review, July-August 2009).

The pursuit of profit is killing innovation Continue reading