What is disruptive innovation? Innovation can be incremental or breakthrough – and in this day and age, when companies are eagerly seeking a competitive edge, breakthrough innovations are more important than ever. For breakthrough innovations, the thought process is not simply how to do better than previously, or how to kick things up a notch. Instead, it requires a complete paradigm shift – a whole new way of doing things. Disruptive innovation is a term that describes such breakthrough thinking and behavior. It is not simply more of the same. It is game-changing.
Characteristics of disruptive innovators: Since only 30% of creativity is inherited, what makes a person disruptively innovative and how can you learn this? In a recent study of inventors of revolutionary products and services such as eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, Amazon’s Jeff Beos and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, several key characteristics emerged as being central to being a disruptive innovator1: associational thinking: the capacity to make associations across seemingly unrelated ideas; passion for inquiry and questioning: oftentimes idealistic questions about radical ideas; observational skills: the attention to surrounding trends and happenings; networking: the testing of ideas with people in seemingly unrelated fields with new ideas and experimenting: the interest in trying things out to see if they work. Another article emphasized that it is not only creative ability, but also the ability to see the business opportunity and to understand the customer’s desire that matter2. In addition, companies such as Nordstrom and Cisco have recognized the power of social media in connecting customers with products and services on their own terms3.
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Characteristics of disruptive organizations: When P&G tripled its innovation success rate, six factors emerged as being relevant to its success: