Diversity of Perspective is Key to Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive Innovation
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Best Practices
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.


Charles Alter
Consultant, United States

Diversity of Thought for Disruptive Innovation

Indeed diversity of thought from people of diverse backgrounds is the key to understanding disruptiv... Sign up

Bernhard Keim
Business Consultant, Germany

Barriers to Diversity May Result from Former Success

Highly developed capabilities in existing products/technologies create barriers to developing capabi... Sign up

Gabi Levin

Examples of Fusion of Fields / Diversity in Disruptive Innovation

This concept has found its way into the class I was teaching about enterprises in the HiTech industr... Sign up

Bernhard Keim
Business Consultant, Germany

Where Spheres Intersect, New Life is Happening

@Gabi Levin: Your last sentence reminds me of biospheres. Most life happens where biospheres inters... Sign up

Gabi Levin

Former Success Can Be the Worst Enemy

The demise of many companies in the technology sector is a dead proof that former success is poison.... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Creativity from Diversity

Here are some further builds for this topic: Creativity is the relating of things that were previ... Sign up

Arif ur Rehman
Professor, Pakistan

Ahead! Ahoy! Diversity to Creativity

Being labelled as foolish (a failed outcome) is better than not experimenting and being designated a... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Labelled Foolish

@Arif ur Rehman:Unfortunately ego in the majority of people does not allow for being labelled as foo... Sign up

Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

A Combination of Curiosity and Diversity Leads to Innovation

Diversity certainly leads to generation of new ideas, however it is the curiosity that enables the i... Sign up


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