|dc.description.abstract||In a fast moving world, one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is dealing
with discontinuous innovation (DI). Most organisations understand that innovation is
an organisational imperative. They learn to listen to customers and constantly evolve
their existing products and services, continuously improve their processes, so that
they are not left behind by competitors.
The ability to deal with this steady state type of innovation – the constant storms of
change within an industry – is essential. Every so often, however, a whirlwind blows
through an industry – whether caused by regulatory or political change, a technology,
or a product, so radically different that it changes the shape of an industry completely
and in doing so puts many existing, successful companies out of business.
In the early 1900s the buggy whip manufacturers in the US, an entire city dedicated
to making a supposedly indispensable item, were put out of business almost over
night by a new fangled machine called a quadracyle, built by a young inventor called
Henry Ford. More recently Polaroid, one of America’s great and longest standing
companies, almost went the same way as the buggy whip manufacturers. The instant
photography company was wrongfooted by the advent of digital photography, making
a number of strategic mistakes in responding to this threat to its business.
For an organisation to be truly successful and sustain that success over many years
it needs to be good at both steady state, conventional innovation, and to be able
to sense a radical new discontinuous innovation on the horizon, and, preferably,
come up with one itself.
Being ready for discontinuous innovation requires a specific set of organisational
skills, not least the ability to search for signs of the potential whirlwind that may
sweep through an industry, or, as with the internet, across entire business sectors
right around the world.
This briefing document focuses on that search skill. By looking at what some leading
organisations are doing in this area it suggests 12 different strategies for developing
a search capability to detect triggers of discontinuous innovation. These strategies
are also useful for more conventional innovation, and all organisations should
employ some at least, if they aim to remain both competitive and durable.||en_GB