Tag Archives: disruption

How mental models block innovation: The case of Alzheimer’s disease

No progress has been made to cure Alzheimer’s disease since it was first discovered in 1906. Why? Not for lack of investment, but because doctors remain stuck in wrong mental models.

Continue reading

Assessing the Potential of ChatGPT: Lessons from the History of Innovation

[Version in French here]

Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past few weeks, you couldn’t escape news about ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence tool that answers all your questions: summarizing an article, informing you about the economic crisis, writing a poem, etc. As with any new technology, it is presented as revolutionary by some and futile, useless, or even dangerous by others. While it will take time for the dust to settle, we can nevertheless avoid some of the pitfalls, and above all, the clear-cut positions, by relying on the history of innovation, which offers at least seven lessons for a more nuanced approach to the debate.

Continue reading

Innovation: why the distinction between exploration and exploitation is problematic

In the field of innovation, the distinction between exploration and exploitation is universal. It is clear, it seems obvious, and it has become gospel in the world of innovation. Yet it is counter-productive, as it rests on questionable assumptions. It illustrates how the way we formulate a problem, i.e. our mental model, determines our ability to solve it. The wrong mental model locks us in, while the right one opens up possibilities. It’s time to let go the exploration/exploitation distinction.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading