Disruptive Innovation

1303 Words6 Pages
Balancing Sustaining and Disruptive Innovation
Dean Robb, Ph.D.
A renewable entrepreneurial enterprise must juggle, balance and integrate two phenomena, each requiring radically different values, mindsets, leadership and management approaches. The first is "sustaining innovations," which are basically improvements to a currently-existing business framework, and which milk the current business model and value proposition for all they are worth. The second is "disruptive innovations," which are innovations that threaten the currently existing business framework by fundamentally changing the rules of the game.
Most business leaders today grew up solely within the traditional "sustaining innovation" paradigm, and thus often fail in their
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Over-simplifying a bit, the required management strengths in this situation are tilted more heavily toward the left-brain: i.e. logical, analytical, objective, "scientific thinking," mastery of details, plan your work and work your plan. This is the domain of traditional strategic and operational planning, of operations management, of production, of customer service, of systems, of process management and improvement, and possibly even process reengineering, as well as of sustaining innovations.
Mature businesses generally exhibit what could be termed a "Performance" culture, shaped by the never-ending requirement to deliver excellent financial results within a relatively fixed business context. Performance cultures have an operational or production-oriented flavor, meaning that they focus on repetitive, task-oriented behaviors, and place strong emphasis on "organizational alignment" (meaning convergent, synchronized behavior). They also tend to be hierarchical, perfectionistic and evaluative, with a strong emphasis on conformance to standards, in a never-ending drive to detect and eliminate errors.
All of these characteristics serve a mature business very well. But, as we shall see shortly, in the context of new business creation based on disruptive innovations, these same management approaches and cultural characteristics would choke and kill it.

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