radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

Disruption is a Combinatorial Game.

Jan 24, 2023

Here is the ugly truth about innovation (one which is well-known but often ignored): The vast majority of innovations these days are not genuine novel discoveries but merely the result of clever recombinations of existing technologies. Laura Spinney recently summarized this insight beautifully in her Big Idea piece “What’s the secret of innovation?” for the UK newspaper The Guardian.

In our sessions, when discussing disruptive innovation, we like to point out that even such revolutionary inventions, such as Apple’s iPhone, are merely a very clever combination and extension of existing (and recently made available) technologies such as touch screens and powerful mobile CPUs. In this context, it is important to remind yourself that no company ever was disrupted by a singular technology.

As much as the Internet is abuzz with news about breakthrough technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the technology itself will not be a threat to your business. What is and will become a potential disruptor are competitors leveraging breakthroughs, like ChatGPT, to combine them with other (often long-existing) technologies and approaches to shift the way your customer’s needs are being fulfilled. In our work, we discuss these ruptures in how you serve your customer’s jobs-to-be-done as a state change.

When scanning the horizon for new, potentially disruptive changes, explore the combinatorial potential of novel technologies instead of narrowly focusing on the properties of the technology itself. (via Pascal)