What is Disruptive Innovation?

Disruptive innovation can best be defined, in my view, as the way in which an innovation changes an existing market by making things simpler, more convenient, more accessible and affordable where complication and high cost are mostly the status quo. This can best come about by, in my opinion, when new entrants enter a saturated market and provides the same service at a lower cost. Sustaining innovation can best be described as satisfying the needs of the existing market by designing new products that serve the needs of the future. The two are very similar, but sustainable innovation puts new products in an existing market and disruptive innovation creates new markets separate from the existing ones.

I think that disruptive innovation can be a good catalyst for change since it allows changes to an already existing market by allowing things to be better for the user. I believe this model allows for new solutions to be thought about and given to existing markets where they are sorely needed. If we take a look at few examples, one could look at our education system to find out. I have been hearing for years that we continue to decline in our education system, the only solution is to add money to it to make it better. In some cases where school districts are poor, this may very well be true, but in other cases it is not. We now spend more money on education than we have at any time in our history and continue to get poor results in the meantime. A disruptive innovation in this sense could be to look at things as “misdirected investment” rather than a lack of money. Instead of spending tons of money on administration, laws, and buildings in schools, we should spend every dollar on students and what their needs are. I think this is a good way disruptive innovation could make sure that our education dollars are being spent wisely. In other words, “think outside the box” on school spending. In this example, you could take existing monies and change the direction of cash flow to make sure all schools are getting adequate funding to run their respective institutions.  If we wanted to look at a historical example of disruptive innovation, I think another good place to look would be the library. For years we have had libraries filled with books, almanacs, encyclopedias, and magazines to do research from. All of a sudden, the internet came along and changed the way that we use our libraries. Now, every time that I go to a library, the card catalog and nearly all of the books are posted in online databases. The internet has been a catalyst for disruptive innovation in libraries by making it easier for a user or student to find what it is that they are looking for. Hence, the need to eliminate certain types of “old” written technology in most school libraries today. I think that this example is one of the best from the past.

Now, when I take a look at my industry, I think that disruptive innovation can provide a pathway by which new technologies can enter a company and make things better for the employees that perform certain tasks at a company. In my life, I am heavily involved with the HOBY organization, which seeks to train the future leaders of tomorrow by making them leaders. We put on local seminars and have to stay in compliance with the national curriculum and what its requirements are. For many years, we have used printed documents to send important information to the national headquarters and inform them about what we are doing. We are implementing a new software, called Activecollab, which allows all of this to get send through drop boxes online without all of the paper work involved. I believe that disruptive innovation can play a key role in this regard by providing a new pathway to make something better for our organization. Activecollab takes our original tasks and simplifies them, making them easier to manage. This is the vital role that disruptive innovation can help change. We can now “think outside of the box” at HOBY. I think that if we use this framework to change HOBY, we can change educational funding to make it better.

Disruptive Innovation for Social Change. (2006). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from https://hbr.org/2006/12/disruptive-innovation-for-social-change

Christensen, C. (2012). Disruptive Innovation. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/


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