When Henry Ford was perfecting the assembly line by installing motor-driven conveyor belts that allowed factory workers to construct a Model T in only 93 minutes, little did he know the vast impact that this innovation would have on modern day manufacturing. A true game changer.
In part 1 of this blog I highlighted the ways in which disruptive thinkers approach life and how you can too in order to drive big changes. Here I discuss how disruptive thinking leads to innovation and the subsequent behaviours which can lead to insight.
Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen1 that describes a new product or service that is so innovative, it disrupts the market and forces businesses in that market to radically change their business or suffer serious consequences.
Thinking laterally and asking the questions that have not been asked, or dare not be, can be make or break. Take Fujifilm for example. When it was clear that digital imagery would change the photography market forever their forward thinking CEO, Shigetaka Komori, asked how can we apply our photographic chemical knowledge elsewhere. The answer to this innovative challenge meant that their protective coating (cellulose triacetate) now forms the protection for flat screen displays. Cut to 2012 and Fujifilm introduced skincare product range Astalift based on research and development of photosensitive materials.
Christensen calls this an outcome of the leapfrogging mindset and boundary pushing1 – 2 of 5 behaviours, or ‘discovery skills’ that lead to disruptive innovation. All 5 are listed below:
A Leapfrogging Mindset - The relentless intent to create or do something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward and adds a completely new level of value to the market.
Boundary Pushing - Immersing oneself in different environments and with a diverse range of people in order to continually expand mindset and creative problem solving abilities alongside continually pushing the limits of others.
Data-Intuition Integration - Making decisions using whatever data is attainable, as robust as possible from any and all sources inside and outside the organisation but then be comfortable using gut instinct for the rest.
Adaptive Planning - Managing incredible levels of uncertainty by learning from results of action and then modifying assumptions and approaches accordingly based on new insight calibrated to the needs of the market.
Savouring Surprise - Recognise that surprises are an inevitable part of the process and use surprise as a strategic tool to be most agile and fastest to capitalise on unforeseen events.
Engaging in these behaviours therefore is the practical step to use disruptive thinking to create innovation. Take a look and see which of these works for you in your environment and then commit to making them happen.
Going back to Henry Ford and his desire for innovation – he is attributed the quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”; instead he revolutionised the industry. So what are you waiting for? Go disrupt, go innovate, go change the world.
1: The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, generally referred to as The Innovator's Dilemma. Clayton Christensen, 1997