There’s a lot of commotion over disruption
I accidentally caused a lot of controversy when I posed a question in a couple LinkedIn groups. Of course, my ramblings always gather inordinate amounts of attention (caution, sarcasm in play!), but this one went overboard.
What did I do? I simply asked: “Who will create the next disruptive technologies that will change the world?” and pointed to this article’s premise that non-experts are better at disruption.
While I certainly have my own thoughts on this subject, I wanted to hear the voice of others.
There was a lot of discussion, so I want to share some of the more interesting opinions.
As expected, one group stated that you need to be an expert to develop good new ideas and another said that being a novice is best since experts are myopic to a fault.
A third camp said that the novices and experts need to collaborate to ideate disruptive technologies and follow through with how to implement them. Although no one knew at the time, this is my own belief.
Various commenters did seem to agree that defining when to call an innovation “disruptive” is difficult because of the variations in:
• Speed of adoption (influenced by pricing, usefulness, and marketing).
• Difficulty in quantifying “significant” in terms of market adoption, users, technologies replaced, dollars sold or profitability.
• Labeling. Technologies are declared by their creator(s) to be “disruptive” before they have been introduced into the market.
This causes misunderstanding since disruptive technologies can only be assessed after they’ve penetrated their market).
There were many insightful comments. Here* are a few that were short and sweet:
• Truly disruptive innovations do not occur often. – Ken Smith, Innovation Excellence Group.
• Who is an expert and who is a non-expert? Should they be called “specialists” instead? [paraphrased] – Didier Mauroy, Emerging Technology Group.
• Can “new” disruptive technologies really be considered as new when most new technologies are merely assemblies of already known technologies? – Walter Paget, Innovation Excellence Group.
• Maybe a preferred form for the original question would ask whether the innovator would be a dreamer or a realist rather than expert or non-expert. – David Wittenberg, Innovation Excellence Group.
• “Think outside the box” is a euphemism for “question authority.” – Paul Teich, MiniTrends.
• Referring to the Innovator’s Dilemma that Clayton Christensen wrote about, “one of the biggest inhibitors of innovation is success.” – Wayne Caswell, MiniTrends.
• Radical/revolutionary innovation is close to disruptive and may be confuse with it. – Steen Koldsø, Innovation Excellence Group.
• You can’t be an expert in something that doesn’t yet exist, so all disruptive innovations per se will come from non experts in the new field by definition. – Chris Yapp, The Futurist Group.
• [The] best sign to know if your innovation is disruptive, might be the fact that your own scientific community will be shocked and will try to stop it’s experimentation. – Eric Offenstadt, Innovation Excellence.
• So what gets in the way of the new great “disruptive” technologies? Bureaucracy, politics, fear of missing out, jealousy (even hate), poor communication, etc. – Walter Paget, Innovation Excellence Group.
* All comments appeared in LinkedIn groups cited.
Lita Ford’s picture credit: Granpas Hyena (Wikimedia)