A Reflection on Disruptive Innovation
When I think about disruptive innovation, I can only think of the fact that we live in an era of new things. Many people often think that the way forward is to keep things the way they are or to implement new things that would revolutionize the way a product or service is implemented in a company. According to Clayton Christensen, a “disruptive innovation” is a change in the process of a product or service where something takes root at the bottom and moves up to the top, replacing the established competitors. If one was to look at a historical example of this, we should only look to the library at most schools for a classic example. I, like many others, went to school at a time when there were large amounts of printed books and card catalogs in the school library. We learned all about the Dewey Decimal system and how it could be used to find books and other printed materials that we could all use in writing a paper or article for one of our classes. We also learned about how to print citations in a paper to make sure we were giving credit to other people who we were borrowing ideas from. Then, all of a sudden, along comes the Internet and it suddenly became much easier to do research. We could find printed material on computers very easily and my elementary school quickly embraced this as a new way of learning. My teachers did not like it too much, but it made things very easy for my classmates and me to write papers and do research.
If one takes a look at sustaining innovation, it is very easy to see how it is related to the above. Sustaining innovation seeks to listen to the customers in the existing market and create new products that satisfy future needs. The key point of difference of disruptive innovation is that new markets are created separate from the mainstream. In doing so, both of these theories create opportunities for businesses. If we were to use technology as an example, “cloud computing” is a good match. It is a relatively new idea that allows computers to store data in the “cloud in the sky” and automate the processes of business, people, technologies, and the Internet. Apple customers have the opportunity to store their information in the “cloud” and retrieve it anytime they need it. If someone stole your phone, you have the chance to recover the lost information and store it in a new phone without someone else gaining access to it. This means that the information you stored in the “cloud in the sky” can be stored in a vault and it is there for you anytime you need it. It has encryption and it is safe from anyone who might try to steal it. This saves companies time and money by automating their data storage processes.
In the instance of our education system, I look at the arguments put forward by Sir Ken Robinson as a good model for how we can improve it. For many years, we have based our educational model on the “industrial model,” instead of the “agriculture model” where all things are grown organically. I hold the opinion that too many educational systems in our modern world are built on the premise that everything has to be the same. We have added continuous amounts of standardized tests to our curricula that look at everything in the context of “industrial batches” being produced and not at the individual spirits of the people involved. We also fail to realize that in the modern world, learning environments fail to realize that life happens organically, and not in a linear fashion. All education should by customized to fit the understanding that not all of us “like our steaks cooked the same.” Rather, it should be built on the belief that all of us “like our steaks cooked differently.” Simply put, we need to “customize” all learning and not “standardize” all learning. Many standardized tests should be eliminated and all curricula should be designed around different learning abilities and not producing large “industrial batches” of the same thing. In using technology to enhance our curricula, we could use this model to use technologies like Skype or online portfolios to customize the learning experience for all students. Lessons could be taught from long distances apart and learning could be assessed through these portfolios to see what students are learning. From here, we could learn what benchmarks are being hit in our education system, with regards to quality assurance. If we all decided to make improvements like these, our education system would undergo an entire “revolution,” and it would be more engaging for students and teachers alike.
When I think about disruptive innovation being a catalyst for change, I can only think about the fact that it allows new technologies to serve new customers by improving what is already there. Disruptive innovation provides a pathway by which existing processes can be improved so that they are more convenient for businesses and people alike. In my industry, the non-profit sector, I can think of many ways disruptive innovation has occurred in my organization. In this instance, we will take a look at technology as a pivotal example. For many years, I have been involved with the HOBY organization, otherwise known as Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. This non-profit organization seeks to shape the leaders of tomorrow by making high school sophomores the leaders of today. We hold a yearly seminar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in which we seek to change lives through achieving a set of national guidelines set by the national board of our organization. A number of years ago, the Web2Project was implemented to make it easier for each chapter of HOBY to achieve 100 percent compliance rates corresponding to the national curriculum. After that implementation, we had the chance to improve our processes by submitting all of our compliance paperwork online to improve our operational efficiency at the seminar. We since have had the chance to implement new software called ActiveCollab, which takes the process even further. Now, all of our documents and reports must be posted online along with indications of where our seminar committee is at in the seminar planning process. I see this as a good example of disruptive innovation in that we still have not gone 100 percent towards implementation in our seminar. There have been setbacks, budget reductions, and more that have been a hinder to the process. In this technology plan, I want to use my skills to implement this system across all of our data and make sure that everyone understands what we are doing to be successful. I think that if all of this gets implemented, then we are all making progress together. This can be used as an example of disruptive innovation since this is a new technology that seeks to improve the processes already used. If this process is successfully implemented, it can become a catalyst for change in my organization and assist us in providing a better experience for our “ambassadors.” This will go a long way to help us all.
Disruptive Innovation. (2012). Retrieved April 15, 2016, fromhttp://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/
Sustaining vs Disruptive Innovation. (2012). Retrieved April 15, 2016, from https://archive.mattwest.io/sustaining-vs-disruptive-innovation/
- (2010). Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! Retrieved April 14, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LelXa3U_I