Diversity of Perspective is Key to Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive Innovation
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Rick Mueller
Professor, United States

Diversity of Perspective is Key to Disruptive Innovation

“All new ideas are combinations of old ideas, but not all idea combinations are created equal,” writes Frans Johannsen.

An HBR article by Johansson tells how Mick Pearce designed the Eastgate office building in Harare, Zimbabwe. He based it on techniques he observed termites employ to stabilize the internal temperature of their nests. Remarkably, the Eastgate maintains an ambient temperature between 73-78°F (23-26°C) despite variances in external temperatures from 58-88°F (14-31°C). And the building uses only 10% of the energy needed by a similar, airco cooled building.

Johannsen argues in his book that most innovation comes at the intersection of fields, and Pearce's building is just one example.

Disruptive Innovation is (as Inigo Montoya might say) 'not what you think it means'. Many are under the mis-impression that disruptive innovation proceeds from newly developed disruptive technologies when in fact the bulk and most powerful disruptive innovations are novel combinations of existing technology repurposed to empower customers with broadly desired capabilities previously exclusive to the well endowed.

That's why diversity of perspective is something we should strive for and, as we've learned over time, can pay off handsomely when used to repurpose technology in this way. For more information see also the best practice How to Find Innovative Ideas? From Analogous Markets.

⇒ Do you know another good example of diversity of perspective combining existing technology? Drop a reaction.
Book: Frans Johansson, "The Medici Effect", HBR Press 2017 (2004).
Article: Frans Johansson, "Create the Medici Effect", HBS Working Knowledge, 2004.

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