What Does an Expert in Disruption Do?

We take a look at the most innovative companies in the world and what they have done to get where they are today


‘Disruption’ is one of the most popular buzzwords at the moment. Just about every company that’s been successful over the last decade has disrupted either themselves or the market they operate in.

The world’s most powerful entrepreneurs got their companies to an elite level because they understand the power of creativity and their consumers need for convenience. It’s not about delivering the best performance but instead a happy medium between technological power and ease of use.

Look at Wikipedia, dubious sources and often unreliable content, but yet it has an Alexa Rank of 6, with million upon millions of visitors each day. There is no way that Wikipedia’s content is better than a traditional encyclopaedia's, but who wants to look through a book every time they’re challenged on a claim they’ve made or unsure of a term they’ve read in an article? Nobody. Jimmy Wales tapped into this and disrupted the publishing industry by making information more accessible.

If you still have one of the first generation iPods you’ll notice that the click wheel closely resembles a lock. The best Disruptive Innovators come up with a lot of their ideas through ‘association’, that is the ability to look at an item, which, on the face of it, seems completely unrelated and make connections.

At Apple, they originally designed their iPod to have a separate forward, back, pause and play button, like most MP3 players of the time but this made it difficult to navigate through hundreds of songs. It was only when one designer saw a rounded lock that Apple’s click wheel became an idea. Through a process of association, they saw something that would make their customers lives easier. From both a design and functionality standpoint it was one of the most important reasons why the iPod became the must have MP3 player.

It may seem like an obvious statement, but the best innovators think differently and ask questions that go against the status quo. They often eliminate constraints that might act as a barrier, including costs. If an idea is there, the best innovators find a way to make their ideas happen, regardless of resources.

There should also be an emphasis on observation and experimentation. Even the world’s biggest companies sometimes try and learn from each other to see how they innovate. By definition however, there is no blueprint for disruptive innovation; creativity can’t be surmised into four or five bullet points. The methods defined above have stood some of the biggest companies in the world in good stead, so they’re valuable, but as ever, it’s about what gets you ticking - nothing should be ignored.


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