The “innovator’s dilemma” by Clay Christensen is defined as the tough choice any company faces when it has to choose between holding onto an existing market by doing the same, yet slightly better (sustaining innovation), or capturing new markets by embracing new technologies and adopting new business models (disruptive innovation).
Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.
As opposed to disruptive innovation, sustaining innovation, seeks to improve existing products. Meaning, it does not create new markets or values, but rather merely develop existing ones.
The applicability of this premise in the current context became even more apparent. Written in 1997 (24 years ago… I was barely out of college then) and seems so relevant today. Disruptive innovation is bandied about pretty easy nowadays but the fact is, knowingly or otherwise, what most firms are practicing is sustaining innovation.
In other words sustaining innovation can also be called continuous improvement or Kaizen – its become a tad unfashionable to talk about these concepts in this day and age but they are as relevant today as they were earlier. Some points on why sustaining innovation is a better bet:
Improvement on a proven base of product and service
End customers familiarity with current model
Faster adoption by customers and employees both
Easier to market
At EasyProblemSolving, we have evolved a 3 step methodology, i3 to help organizations adopt and thrive innovation. The methodology is a graded approach (detailed below):
Find the right problem:
Design Thinking - a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.
Six Sigma – Data based method to find and confirm the problem/s and root causes
ideaTRIZe - i3 bases the ideation on practical adaptation of TRIZ principles and other methods to get the creative leap.
Project & Program Management
i3 finds inspiration from Lean Startup methods & Change Management methods to ensure scaling of validated ideas
i3 is a systematic, fluid way to find the right problems and solve for them thus helping businesses achieve their strategy.
Sushant is the co-founder of EasyProblemSolving, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Sustaining Innovation, He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org