I came across this snippet about disruption and incumbents yesterday on Andreesen-Horowitz’s blog.
It feels strange for me to be approaching the idea of disruption from the position of “incumbent”, but there you have it – I work at The Times. And the fact is, when you are an incumbent your relationship to disruptive innovation needs to be different than when you are seeking to be the disruptor. So I found this to be particularly insightful, and something for us at The Times to think about. See full piece on “The Four Stages of Disruption” here.
When you’re the incumbent, your key decision is to choose carefully what you view as disruptive or not. It is to the benefit of every competitor to claim they are disrupting your products and business. Creating this sort of chaos is something that causes untold consternation in a large organization. Unfortunately, there are no magic answers for the incumbent.
The business team needs to develop a keen understanding of the dynamics of competitive offerings, and know when a new model can offer more to customers and partners in a different way. More importantly, it must avoid an excess attachment to today’s measures of success.
The technology and product team needs to maintain a clinical detachment from the existing body of work to evaluate if something new is better, while also avoiding the more common technology trap of being attracted to the next shiny object.