Buzzword Buster – Disruption

One of the most over used phrases in modern business. At its core, disruption relates to disturbance which interrupts events. In business the word is over used as a glorious proclamation that a certain company, product or idea is going to change the way an industry works. Oft cited examples are Uber and Airbnb.

In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christiansen breaks disruption into two main types, either addressing a market which couldn’t have been addressed before (new-market disruption), or offering a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product (low-end disruption).

Innovators and entrepreneurs will often be overheard discussing how they have been disrupting all over the place. Venture capitalists will all too often have a portfolio which is stuffed full of disruptive startups. All too often this is little more than a good PR story to cover the fact that companies are producing slightly improved versions of products that already exist in the market.

Entrepreneurs who fail to be disruptive usually have a hard time making an impact on their markets. While big established (and well capitalised) brands can get away with gradual conservative improvements on existing product lines, tiny firms with no public presence will always struggle.

There is a really great overview on disruption in business, and The Innovator’s Dilemma, here.



Disagree or want to add something? What does Disruption mean to you?

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