Is Disruptive Innovation Radical?

Disruptive Innovation
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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.

Thoughts?

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