Tag Archives: disruption

Why asking a innovation unit to be more disruptive is not a good idea

[Version française ici]

That innovation units created within large organizations have a difficult life is not new. Most of them disappear after three years on average, because after the euphoric start, they fail to become part of the life of the organization. But those that survive are not out of the woods yet, because they are caught between a top management that demands “more disruption” and an organization that, through its budgetary and control processes, removes any chance for a disruptive project to see the light of day. Getting out of this difficult situation requires being very clear about what “disruptive” means, and understanding the real nature of innovation.

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Why Transforming an Organization is Difficult: Resources, Processes, Values and the Migration of Skills

Why do organizations find it difficult to change when facing a disruption? The question is not new but it continues to puzzle researchers and managers alike. Part of the answer lies in the observation that over time, what an organization knows migrates: its capability initially lies in its resources (especially human), then it evolves to processes and finally to values. It is at this last stage that change is the most difficult.

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Disruptions: A Wrong Impression of Speed of Change

Everything is going faster! Change is accelerating! At least that’s what we hear all the time. What if this platitude reflected a misunderstanding of the nature of disruptions and how they develop? And what if, therefore, it led to the wrong answers by incumbents and startups? Let’s analyze the nature of disruptions and our relationship to time.

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My New Forbes Piece: The Cargo Cult of Digital Transformation

My latest post on Forbes, written with Milo Jones, is a reflection on difficulty of transformation by incumbent companies in the face of digital disruption. It’s available here.

Disruption Is Not a Question of Technology, but of Business Model

We hear a lot about “disruptive technologies”, but what makes an innovation disruptive is not usually its technical dimension, and the distinction often made between radical innovation and incremental innovation is not so pertinent. Indeed, we can observe two examples to illustrate this point.

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New Product Adoption Is the Art of Incentives: The Example of Photoelectric Kits in Africa

In the 1970s, the French government decided to help Africa develop. The lack of lighting had long been identified as an obstacle to development: without lighting, for instance, children could not do their homework at night. Thus the French government decided to subsidize the design and manufacturing of light kits. A small solar panel charged its battery in the day in order to be used at night. The tender was launched, a company that designed robust kits won the contract and the kits were sent to Africa to be distributed. But just a few weeks after the operation was launched, it failed. The kits were not used. Why?

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Five mistakes to avoid when managing a disruptive project: 3- Trying to be the first

This article is the third part of a series of fives articles on mistakes to avoid when managing a disruptive project, extracted from my new book “A Manager’s Guide to Disruptive Innovation”.

The disruption theory can shed new light on the first mover advantage. The first mover advantage theory states that the first entrant in a new market has the advantage of being able to take leadership of the market and effectively resisting the entry of subsequent competitors. This theory forms the conceptual basis of a popular approach known as “blue ocean”.

By advancing the premise that the main factor of competitiveness is the order of arrival on the market, this theory recommends to companies to go as quickly as possible to be the first. However this theory suffers from a major flaw: it is rarely supported by the facts. Many leading players in their field were late entrants, to name just a few: Procter & Gamble with its disposable diapers, Gillette with its disposable razors, Google with its search engines, and Apple with its iPhone.

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Educating for the Digital Transformation: Four Common Mistakes

Digital is everywhere. As Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, a Web pioneer and now star investor in the Silicon Valley, wrote: “Software is eating the world.” There is no industry today that is not impacted by the digital revolution. How to prepare our executives, current and future, for this revolution? The question is not new but it seems that many mistakes are made in the approaches, including by those who design training programs on the issue. Let’s review four of these mistakes.
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When their “talents” prevent firms from innovating

This is unfortunately a common experience: during an executive seminar on innovation I ran for a large group, we outlined an innovation strategy based in particular on the development of intrapreneurship. We designed programs that would allow employees to develop their ideas, and defined appropriate structures and devices to make it work. Then finally came the crucial moment, when one of the participants asked the fateful question: “But do we have the people to do this?” Everyone looked appalled. The HR manager – fortunately she was present – answered, embarrassed, “Well actually, no we don’t.” Game over.

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Power to the user: how innovation puts technology in the hands of the users

One of the characteristics of innovation is to simplify and make more accessible technologies that previously required experts to handle them. Pregnancy tests illustrate this phenomenon: while in the 60s it was necessary to visit a doctor to perform such a test, it can now be performed by buying a $5 kit in a pharmacy. The change for a given technology is therefore translated by two factors: a reduction in costs and simplification. In other words, because the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use, experts are less and less needed for a given problem to solve. Indeed, those pregnancy tests are more and more bought online, thus removing the need for the pharmacist. In 50 years, solving this problem have moved from the doctor to the pharmacist, then from the pharmacist to the user.

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