Disruptive Innovation: Is it Too Disruptive for Your Organization?

A guest blog by Bryan Mattimore and Gary Fraser, Principals of
The Growth Engine Company.

As an innovation agency, Growth Engine is often asked by our clients to help them create “disruptive innovations.” Our clients know that being first to market a breakthrough innovation can create highly-attractive margins and a first mover advantage difficult for competitors to overcome.

However, when we dig deeper into our clients’ wish for “disruptive innovation,” we often discover they don’t want disruptive innovations at all. What they really want is lower-risk new products (or services) that can be created by their existing R & D group, manufactured on their current lines or systems, marketed under their current brands, and distributed through their existing systems of distribution.

The chance of a truly disruptive innovation coming from all these “existing” ways of doing business however is close to nil. The reality is that disruptive innovations are not only disruptive to the marketplace, but can be highly disruptive to the organization as well.

Clients come to see that when they pursue a truly disruptive idea, because of the time, money, and talent required to make that idea a success within an organization’s current structure… it can be a daunting, even seemingly-impossible challenge. Disruptive innovations, more often than not, are:
– extremely time-consuming
– highly ambiguous in the early stages
– fraught with great organizational resistance and political risk
…and often require
– unique and new-to-the-organization talents and competencies
– significant investments
– outside partnerships/relationships and
– a longer-term orientation and commitment

So what have the marketers charged with “innovating the new” at their organization done? The simple answer is that they are working hard to pursue less risky, less organizationally-disruptive innovations that still address important un-met consumer and customer needs.

Growth Engine’s work, on both sides of the disruptive innovation fence, has led us to discover an interesting, even counter-intuitive paradox: disruptive ideas are relatively easy to conceive of – and extremely difficult to successfully innovate. Less disruptive innovations – almost always marketed under an existing brand, but still meeting an important consumer need – are extremely difficult to conceive, and easier to market.

As we know, there are tremendous marketing and media cost efficiencies in leveraging a brand’s current equity. One of the challenges however, is that the brand’s equity can also restrict how far a brand can be extended.

So, how can a creative marketer resolve the seemingly paradoxical challenge of innovating within and for an established brand while at the same time creating something truly unique and valuable to a consumer? The answer lies in using a combination of better, more strategically-focused idea generation with an iterative concept development process in which the consumer is a true partner.
And that is exactly what Growth Engine’s two-hour course Soundview Pro: “Growing Established Brands,” is all about! This course combines:

State-of-the-art ideation techniques that help innovators create exciting breakthroughs that can be marketed under existing brands with  Creative consumer research methodologies that insure these breakthrough concepts address important and compelling consumer needs.

Want to know more? Click on this link Growing Established Brands to get started.

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