Is Disruptive Innovation Radical?

Disruptive Innovation
Knowledge Center


Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

Is Disruptive Innovation Radical?

Disruptive Innovation is often incorrectly described as a radical rather than incremental change in technology. In fact, one of the fundamental elements of Christensen’s work was to illustrate that market incumbents rather than entrants are mainly responsible for radical improvements in product performance via the integration of expensive and complex technology.

To understand disruptive innovation more effectively, I’d like to suggest thinking of it more as radical potential for growth (vs. incremental potential for growth).

To view it another way, sustaining (non-disruptive) innovation is always grounded in and thus constrained by an existing paradigm - whereas disruptive innovation is not. And all other things being equal, the potential for growth of an unconstrained concept will always exceed that of one which is constrained.

The point here is that RADICAL VERSUS INCREMENTAL is a valid construct to use in describing disruptive innovation, but more so in the sense of OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH than in terms of the TECHNOLOGY EMPLOYED.



William Miller
Consultant, United States

Disruptive versus Radical Innovation: Dominant Design

To adequately understand either disruptive or radical innovation, the concept of Dominant Design (DD... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

What is a Dominant Design

@William Miller: thanks, interesting… I looked up two definitions of dominant design (Utterback). In... Sign up

William Miller
Consultant, United States

What is a Dominant Design

Jim Utterback agrees that the definition of a dominant design (DD) that I described (with 3 parts) r... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Are Utterback’s 3 Parts of Dominant Design Mandatory?

@William Miller: Thanks for your further explanation. Does Utterback consider the 3 parts as mandato... Sign up

William Miller
Consultant, United States

Are Utterback's 3 Parts of Dominant Design Mandatory?

The 3 parts in a dominant design definition were authored by Bill Miller, not Utterback. However, U... Sign up

Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

What of the Evolution of Disk Drives?

Christensen used the evolution of disk drives as his primary and foundational example of Disruptive ... Sign up


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Disruptive Innovation
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