Posted by Tom Foremski - February 7, 2006
Geoffrey Moore, one of Silicon Valley's top IT consultants has published a column disrupting the notion of disruptive innovation, as one of ten myths about innovation.
In "Top 10 Innovation Myths" published on Sandhill.com, Mr Moore attacks the belief that innovation is inherently disruptive.
To be sure, authors like Clay Christensen and myself have spent much of our life's work chronicling the impact of disruptive innovation, but it is only one type among many. And the more established your company, the less likely it is a type for you to specialize in. Alternatives include application innovation, product innovation, platform innovation, line extension innovation, design innovation, marketing innovation, experiential innovation, value engineering innovation, integration innovation, process innovation, value migration innovation, and acquisition innovation.
I respectfully disagree. In this passage Mr Moore applies the term innovation so liberally, that it might seem that he has proved his point by showing innovation in its numerous forms, and that this somehow dilutes the value and the qualities of the term.
I think innovation *always* has to have the quality of disruption. It is something which causes everyone affected by it--to adopt it or die. Innovation is always the better way.
Because if an innovation is not sufficiently disruptive it will not overcome the inertia of the status quo--and will therefore not be classed as innovative. It's a circular argument, but completely within the nature of the term's meaning, imho.
The other forms of innovation that Mr Moore might be indicating I might classify as incremental efficiencies, or what in the the chip industry would be called "design shrinks." That's when chipmakers use their current silicon technology infrastructure to develop ways of reducing the size of their chip designs--producing a few more chips per wafer, and nudging up profit margins.
I think that innovation has to be very disruptive and offer a superbly excellent ROI in order to gain attention, and overcome cost of switching barriers.
And every Silicon Valley startup had better have some kind of disruptive innovation in its garage otherwise why bother?
In the chip industry, innovation comes about every ten years when it retools itself for larger silicon wafer sizes. The chip industry is currently switching to 12-inch wafers from 8-inch wafers.
That automatically improves produtivity by 2.4 times while reducing unit production costs, requiring less human labor, which reduces contamination and improves yields. [The bunnysuits protect the chips from the workers.]
A 12-inch wafer chip production technology is a disruptive innovation--there is no way an 8-inch wafer fab can compete against the massive gains in manufacturing efficiencies.
But each time the chip industry makes the transition to a larger wafer size--the technology differentiation between the chip makers becomes far less dramatic and disruptive.
Please take a look at Mr Moore's column "Top 10 Innovation Myths" He has a tremendous track record and is one of our top thought leaders on IT strategy and author of Crossing the Chasm and other ground breaking books.
And he has a new book to promote :
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I had an interesting meeting with Mr Moore about six months ago:
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