Innovation snobbery is bugging me.
It was a full on pandemic at SXSW, but that’s to be expected. Great event. But ground zero for innovation snob outbreaks. Then the affliction flared up in various startup blogs throughout the spring, and was even an itchy recurrent rash at Big Omaha.
At EntreFEST (Iowa City, May 15-16), it fueled a great ongoing dialogue during the track on innovation in existing companies, which I was lucky enough to host.
One of the points I tried to make early in my presentation was that innovation can’t just be the job of the cool kids. Innovation needs to be everybody’s responsibility.
The flip of that, though, is that innovation occurs in different flavors, and it’s not everybody’s job to be producing every flavor of innovation. In fact, in most cases, it can’t be.
Which takes us to:
Innovation Snobbery, Strain #1: Sustainers vs. Disruptors
The cool kids comment was aimed at the first major split in flavors of innovation: sustaining and disruptive.
This delineation as first popularized in 1997’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen.
Sustaining innovation is all about refining your existing business model. It’s frequently about improving process or workflow. It’s about getting more efficient and improving margins. It can be about adding features to make your best customers wildly happy. And it’s everybody’s job. High performing, established companies are often great at sustaining innovation.
Disruptive innovation, on the other hand, is about attacking [Read more…]