What is Disruptive Innovation Exactly? Definition

Disruptive Innovation
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Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

What is Disruptive Innovation Exactly? Definition

A "definition" of Disruptive Innovation that's frequently quoted is one which is located on Christensen's website. It reads:
"DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors".

So then here is my concern. We know that not every "product or service that takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market" is a disruptive innovation, since there are a great number of products which occupy niches in which it appears they will remain for eternity without becoming the dominant means to accomplish (what is many times) the same function as that served by the more expensive product.

Therefore the defining term of Christensen's definition must be in "relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors". But isnít the objective of all innovation, and particularly of sustaining (non-disruptive) innovation - e.g. to compete for and keep as much market share as possible on the basis of superior product and operational efficiencies?

So I take it then that while the conditions listed on Christensen's web page may be necessary for disruption, they are not sufficient.

What then ought we to suppose IS sufficient to differentiate Disruptive Innovation from all other innovation?
Or am I just interpreting this incorrectly?


Think Disruptive
Business Consultant, United States

Weaknesses in Christensen's 'Definition' of Disruptive Innovation

What you describe as a "definition" really isn't. It's a gross simplification designed to capture th... Sign up

Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

Pehaps the Weakness is in our Interpretation?

OK, so it's taken that when looking at Christensen's web site's criterion there are some instances o... Sign up

Think Disruptive
Business Consultant, United States

No, the Weakness Isn't in Interpretation; It's in an Unusable 'Definition'

No, that sort of supposition is exactly like Tim Hunt blaming female scientists for being distractin... Sign up

Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

Any Examples (even One)?

On the basis of your suggestion I'm trying to think of even one niche product that simultaneously fu... Sign up

Francisco Encarnado
Management Consultant, Philippines

What Disruptive Innovation Means

In my own understanding, the term "disruptive" is something that cause trouble to an existing... Sign up


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Disruptive Innovation
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