How to spot Disruptive Innovation Opportunities

Some time ago Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen has introduced the theory of Disruptive Innovation, and it is probably one of the most important innovation theories of the last decade. A disruptive innovation is an innovation with a product or service being improved, in a way that the market had not expected. It occurs when an innovator brings something to market that is simple, convenient, accessible, and affordable. Most of the time not by enhancing the technology, but by transforming the business model. A famous example is the introduction of the Nintendo Wii, which found a market of  traditionally non-gamers and used less technically less ‘perfect’ games. The question is: How do you find a way to find a distributive innovation for your organization?

Disruptive TechnologyMost organizations apply sustaining innovation, which can also be effective. But in contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete  against each other’s sustaining improvements (Wikipedia). It gives in that way room for new players to transform the playing field. As said in a blog post before: the creator of a game always wins. Have a look at this really informative interview with Scott Anthony, President Innosight. He gives some tips to help you pinpoint disruptive opportunities within your organization.


The Nightmare Competitor – a playful method
It is often difficult to find Disruptive Innovation opportunities, because it demands a radical perception shift on your organization and the system it is part of. Most people get stuck in this process, because they suffer from the ‘tunnel vision’ syndrome. A way of dealing with this is the roll playing game called the Nightmare Competitor. Others call it a ‘scenario planning tool’, which make it more accessible as a serious tool for organizations, but also less effective because it tends to take all the fun and therefor creativity out of the process…

The Nightmare Competitor challenges you to  become the worst new competitor of your own company. What would you do? How could you ruin this old organization, and become the new Rising Star? You become a Disruptive or Nightmare competitor. By doing so you  learn from the new insights, and implement them in your still existing organization.

I would call this a roll playing game, because people enjoy in this paradigm shift to look at their company in a disconnected way, and have fun in virtually distorting what they love most. Risks are taken, and sore bruises are pushed on. The participants become really creative to overcome existing boundaries. Whatever method you might use: getting away from regular patterns is needed, and the fun and creativity that starting entrepreneurs have are essential.

Please contact me if you want to participate, or know even a better way of creating a disruptive game.