Disruptive Innovation: What Causes the Creative Leap?

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Disruptive Innovation: What Causes the Creative Leap?
srinivas, Member
What causes the difference in magnitude of creative leap? One may create a quantum leap, but other innovations may not be that significant. Is there a process to manifest and channelize creative energy? Obviously many people were and are existing as living examples. However what could be the process involved?

Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Srini, there's an "old saying" in the US that "necessity is the mother of invention". I believe there may be some truth in that.

Add to that the concept of the "Burning Platform" to create the desired necessity and you get some creative solutions to the problem.

Sometimes the solution is to put out the fire. These are your every-day solution - which Clay Christensen calls "sustaining innovations" (to differentiate them from disruptive innovations).

Sometimes the solution to the burning platform problem is to create a new platform sufficiently distant from the old platform (Editor: see Forget, Borrow, Learn) as to reduce/eliminate the possibility of being followed by the fire. To build a new platform and simultaneously learn how to maintain oneself on it is a pretty difficult trick for an established firm with its many mouths to feed, so for that reason it is best to have one or more alternative platforms under construction at all times.


Necessity is the Mother of Invention
srinivas, Member
Rick, totally agree with you that necessity is the mother of invention. Trick is all about getting an out of the box solution while being in the box. Instead of fire would like to consider the analogy of putting a hole to the box in which one is currently in so that an opening for a solution can take place. The idea is not originally mine, it is one of the concept in the experiential system as developed by Seers in India. Hope it helps...

The Hole in the Box
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Hi Srini and thanks,
Another "old saying" is one about having the ability to lead a horse to water but not having the ability to make him (or her) drink. Certainly boxes with holes in them do allow more sunshine to get in - the question we're looking at seems, however to be about getting more out.

In a separate post I recently posted the idea of requiring of brand managers that a certain portion of each year’s market be new (to the industry, not just the firm). Might that represent both a hole in the box as well as motivation to explore outside of that hole?

Leading a Horse to Drink
srinivas, Member
Rick, the saying leading a horse to the water but not having the ability to make him drink may be true to animals and animal nature in humans. The question is: being human, can there be detachment to that animal nature? If not why people like Elon Musk in US at present and many people in India some 1500 years back could attain excellence irrespective of the field (market) they were working in?
Thought the quest is with regard to underlying process involved and implementation part that is missing?

Founders ARE a Different Animal
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Hi Srini, indeed Elon Musk, and successful founders in general, are made of something different than the norm. My impression was that your question instead was on how to replicate that within rather than outside the corporation.

As to developing more entrepreneurs (vs intrepreneurs), one way would appear to be to support the development of a culture in which successful entrepreneurship leads and precedes other forms of accomplishment and gratification, like in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley had the advantage of an overabundance of technically skilled population and quality schools from its days in aerospace, but the most important hole-in-the-box there may be that non-competition clauses are unenforceable there, which allows anyone and everyone that has sufficient desire to create a company out of a good idea. This has in turn led to a great number of successful entrepreneurs that have the money and interest in funding new ventures. And so the cycle continues.

Animalism Defined
srinivas, Member
Rick, used the term animalism to mean that nature itself lacks sensitivity towards the change that is happening around and is unable to respond in an appropriate way. Maybe that is a state of consciousness where the senses are not trained with proper education (not meaning the college education). Maybe because some people are capable of observing more and responding appropriately in a more successful (of course the definition of perceived success differs) way than others.
To me in order to make that hole in the box, successful people have channelized their energy to have a maximum focus and attainment of which does not necessarily dependent on abundance of technical skills, culture, good ideas , etc. Though these are necessary but not sufficient I suppose. In spite of not having any of them, defying the environment, people are capable of generating the desired value (out of box) without compromising on good values. Do you think there is something more to it than above specified factors like good idea, culture , etc. If yes what could it be?

Maybe You don't Have to Be Crazy to Be Disruptive, But it Appears to Help
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Elon Musk's ex-wife seems to believe that being a misfit helps a lot (ti.me/1Q95EJ8/) and when you think of folks like Jobs, Gates, Page, Zuckerberg, Andreesen, and Theil and the like it would seem there's a great deal more where that came from.

That being said, recall that we weren't originally talking about the PEOPLE but rather the PROCESS. None of these folks asked for or needed permission or for someone to provide a hole in the box (nor does it appear as if they would have obtained it that way had they asked).

That's why without knowing any better I would subscribe to the culture being instrumental in attracting and facilitating the emergence of these types of folks. Sort of an "if you build it they will come" sort of thing (even though no one actually designed or built Silicon Valley to become what it has).

That being said, I'm still with everyone else trying to read the few tea leaves I've been lucky enough to find lying about.

Culture and Fitness is the Key
srinivas, Member
I am a student trying to explore on the aspect of process adopted by the successful few where they created value in a system where the culture, good ideas, etc. are constant and available to all. Also I believe that we get only for what we are eligible or fit for and and pray for that to happen.
Yes, I agree that with a good supportive culture innovation thrives and gives scope for many entrepreneurs to take an idea from the conceptual stage to the reality. With regard to making a hole by being in the box, it means to me that fail the system to make it better. Quality inspections, testing, audits, surveillances are the means with which we are authorized and paid for it….

One More Element: Timing
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Oh, and one more thing (as Steve Jobs was so fond of saying): Timing is everything.

Expansion to Righteousness
srinivas, Member
How about right focus (creating an environment to have right focus), right training, right customer service in the service delivery mechanism apart from right timing in delivering the innovated product or service? Yes do agree all the above and probably more of it have an impact on the effectiveness of delivery of innovated products and services….

Where Having More Can Result in Getting Less
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
If what you want to replicate is a given outcome, then you constrain the innovation process. Following a recipe assures that a novice baker can create a cake equal to, but not better than as the first.
New, better cakes come from being allowed (as you mentioned) to change the recipe, combined with a perceived need to do so (burning platform).

The specific ingredients/resources and/or conditions needed to make a better cake, however, remain unknown. It could even be argued that it is a lack of familiar ingredients / resources / conditions and/or an unexpected overabundance of others is many times what, in the hands of an intelligently creative baker, leads to the creation of the newest and most commercially successful types of cakes (and other pastries that might otherwise not exist).

Just Right Works
srinivas, Member
Rick, it is a learning conversation that I am having today, thank you. As mentioned earlier two cases it is not about how much more or how much less that really matters for the recipe I suppose. In the above scenario if the timely intervention to remove the cake at right time will either make it over-baked or under-baked which is either way a failure. Similarly while selecting ingredients if it is much more or too less would spoil the cake. It can be case of neither too tight nor too lose but just tight can be guiding principle while setting an objective. In order to get the just right or just tight objective it requires a number of iterations and by adopting a feedback loop mechanism for each iteration.

Success is not So Much what You Get But Rather what You do with what You've Got
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Hi Srini, the ability and allowance to intelligently iterate is indeed an essential ingredient of innovation. But if you plan on spawning innovation, your metric of performance cannot be overly tied to how well instructions from the past were followed nor (in the case of Disruptive Innovation) what the existing customer thinks about the result. Most of the things that we've come to depend on were developed in a very serendipitous manner.

Severely over bake a cake and you might get the best selling biscuit ever. Severely under bake and you might end up with the best pastry shell or base for a new bread. Conversely, however, it is by intelligently planning one's "mistakes" however (based on the unique conditions at hand) that one seems most likely to succeed in commercial development, as in commercial settings, pure accident probably leads to even worse results than not trying anything new at all.
Thanks for your engagement; I suspect we're all learning something as a result.

Independent Innovation Unit
srinivas, Member
The objective we are trying to accomplish is dependent on a many variables and iteration is the only way that we can find a solution in order to get a solution which satisfies all existing boundary conditions. Tweak a variable or a set of variables, find the result and based on the feedback tweak another set of parameters till we get to the goal. The outcome may not always be in expected lines however if the number of iterations are increased by incorporating the feedback, the focus levels increase and ultimately we get to a solution.
That is the reason for which I suppose a separate innovation lab needs to be attached for a service delivery unit such that continual improvement is on by way of experimentation, finding solution and then continuously integrate the solution with the main delivery unit by having a change management so that the organization can sustain by adapting to the changes that happen to existing conditions in the internal and external environment of the org.

I Thought we Were Looking for the Quantum Leap?
Rick Mueller, SIG Leader
Srini, the process you describe, incrementally getting closer and closer to a prescribed outcome while remaining within constrained "boundary conditions" sounds (to me) not at all like one that would encourage, facilitate, or particularly support the quantum leap you began this thread seeking. Am I reading you incorrectly? Thanks!

Quantum Leap Process Remains Same?
srinivas, Member
Rick, oh yes… Does the process remain the same even for the quantum leap? Your inputs are welcome...
How would one manifest and channelize the creative energy at the individual level and at group level?


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