Disruptive Innovation

A graphical representation of disruptive innovation.  Image courtesy of http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

A graphical representation of disruptive innovation. Image courtesy of http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

Strategic Innovation is the newest academy at the University of Iowa — but what does “Strategic Innovation” really mean? Strategic Innovation isn’t as clear-cut as marketing or finance. As an SI student, what exactly do we study?

Last week in our academy session, we had a lecture and discussion on disruptive innovation and the real-life examples really made the concept of innovation come alive for me.

According to Clayton Christensen, an expert on innovation and growth and Harvard Business School professor, disruptive innovation “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

In our academy session, we talked about how personal computers disrupted mainframe systems – initially no one thought there would be a need for individuals to have a computer in their home.

A few other disruption examples:

  • Travel agents have been nearly eliminated by self-service websites
  • Kodak and Xerox are companies struggling to keep up with advances in cameras, copy machines and printers
  • Netflix has disrupted rental movie businesses in addition to cable television with its online streaming capabilities

As MBAs in Strategic Innovation, we will likely be tasked in the future with either developing and championing a disruptive innovation, or with preventing a disruptive innovation from impacting our company’s sales.

What kinds of disruptive innovations do you think will make an impact in the future?  What steps can established companies take to prevent disruption?

Allison Smith

About Allison Smith

Allison is a first year MBA candidate in the Strategic Innovation Academy at Tippie School of Management. Previously, she was an IT consultant in health and government industries. Allison has a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa and plans to combine her passion for healthcare and technology with business knowledge gained at Tippie in a career that makes a difference.