Photo: nyt.com
When I was writing my thesis a few years ago, at the very beginning I dared to add the word “Disruption” while formulating my topic, which was about Innovation. I wanted to write something that included this catchy word. This word was everywhere. All the startups wanted to be disruptive, restaurants wanted to offer disruptive food, engineers – build a disruptive technology, Virgin created a new tribe – disruptors and on and on.
Once you chose this word you would have to then DEFINE it and this would bring you to the father of disruptive innovation, C.Christensen. His definition (back in ’95) of it was “A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.” He called it a phenomenon(!). Then HBR came up with its definition, then Forbes, Economist etc. At the same time people argued on the need of a better disruption theory, on when does the innovation become disruptive, on how to make it work?
I remember digging deeper into the world of different theories and definitions so much that I forgot about my actual topic. Disruption was removed, innovation it was. I could have dedicated this post to Confucius’s quote, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”, but instead I want to feature a simple and inspiring definition of innovation and disruption.
With or without the disruption theory, people will always create something new, and to assess its disruptiveness, it will be up to the times we live in.
Iteration: doing the same things better.
Innovation: doing new things.
Disruption: doing new things that make the old things obsolete.

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