By Alan Graner
How much longer before disruptive innovation crushes you out of existence?
Days? Years? Decades?
Make no mistake about it: disruptive innovation will eventually put you on the endangered species list.
What is it?
It’s a paradigm shift, a game changer. It’s the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. And it’s heading your way.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
You don’t see disruptive innovation coming. It blindsides you. One minute you’re on top of your game, the next you’re lying on the ground, bloodied, wondering what the hell just happened.
Even scarier, you’re often helpless to fight back. If you make buggy whips, how do you combat the automobile?
Answer: you don’t.
Two types of disruptive innovation
In his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, Dr. Clayton Christensen describes two types of innovation.
Basically improves existing products incrementally. Sometimes the change is minor (software 2.0). Sometimes it’s major (videocassettes replaced by CDs replaced by Internet streaming.
The technology you never see coming. It may begin as a simpler, cheaper version of existing products that are sold into the bottom of the market. Since these products aren’t very good, industry leaders ignore or dismiss them, and mainstream buyers avoid them. Think of the first computers, which were dismissed as toys.
Then, slowly, the disruptive product keeps improving, adding more features and benefits as it works its way up the market ladder. Finally it meets the needs of mainstream customers who rid themselves of the old products and embrace the new paradigm. By the time industry leaders recognize the threat, it’s too late. They’re on the fast track to extinction.
Western Union refused to buy Alexander Graham Bell’s patents because they represented long-distance communications and the telephone was strictly local.
Send a telegram lately?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. For a public relations campaign that makes you stick out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at email@example.com. Or visit www.dsprel.com.