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Disruptive Innovation

Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.

Disruptive Innovation

The theory of disruptive innovation, introduced in Harvard Business Review in 1995, has proved to be a powerful way of thinking about innovation-driven growth. Many leaders of small businesses and entrepreneurial companies rely on it as their catalyst for starting and managing their businesses.

Disruptive innovation is a term in the field of business administration which refers to an innovation that creates a new market and value network, that eventually disrupts an existing market and value network by displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances.

Disruption of Destruction in Business

The “disruption” in business describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources successfully challenges an established existing business.

Specifically, as an existing business focuses on improving its products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they typically forget about the needs of the rest of their market segments.

The disruptive company begins by successfully targeting and satisfying those overlooked and forgotten market segments.  The existing business, busy chasing higher profitability in more-demanding segments, tends not to respond to the initial market intrusion.  Empowered by their initial success, the disruptive business then move upmarket, delivering the performance that the existing businesses’ mainstream customers want.

An early example is how Wikipedia disrupted the encyclopedia market.   Other examples are how the iPhone disrupted the laptop computer market, and how the cell phone disrupted the digital camera market who disrupted the film camera market.

The Problem

The problem in many markets today is that the disruption occurs in the market, but the new entrant is unable to satisfy the targeted market segment.

They, as Mark Zuckerberg said, moved fast and broke things.  But they had no solution.  They added nothing to the market and walked away with nothing to show.

Disruption in our World

We see a great many disruptions today in politics, religion, and military affairs.

At first glance, these may have nothing to do with disruptive business models. Still, if we look closer, we find that many of the same forces are at work: small groups, linked together by new technologies, and united by a common purpose can challenge even the most powerful institutions.  ISIS taking on the military might of the United States, Uber taking on the institutionalized taxi network are two classic examples.

Digital technology enables relatively small actors to synchronize their actions through networks.   This is why we see disruption happening with increasing frequency, all around us.

This trend for disruptive technologies itself is apolitical and amoral. That’s why there can be both disruptors that set out to destroy, and disruptors that aim to create. The former are ego-driven, seeking to replace the powers that be with a different version more to their liking.  The latter is inclusive, working to create an alternative that outperforms the pre-existing model.

The Bible

There is no greater disruptor than Jesus Christ.  He challenged every institution and tradition of His day.  From the Roman Empire to honoring women and children, everything He did was to challenge the status quo.

Jesus, without question, not only challenged the world as everyone in first-century Judea knew it, but He brought with him a new way of life.

Jesus came to give us a new commandment. John 13:34 says,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jesus wants to be the disruptor of our lives so that He can create whole new lives in us. He believes that there is a better way. He believed it so much that He was willing to die on a cross so that the whole world could be saved.

The disruption Jesus brought was to create an alternative world that is better than the world of first-century Judea.  And following Him leads to a world that is better than the culture most prevalent in our world today.

Disruption can make a difference in our life and our business. The future belongs to those that see the world in a new and different way.

Whether it is a disruption in our business market or a political disruption across the globe, the challenge is to make sure the new way, after the disruption, is better, not just different.  Understanding how Jesus was a disruptor will help us see the difference between good disruption and pointless disruption.