Most companies take a “me-too” approach to innovation. They wait for a competitor to bring a product to market and then they try to improve it by making it cheaper or adding something new.
The me-too strategy is easier to execute, but it’s not better. The disruptive approach puts you in the driver’s seat, allowing you to set the rules of the game and forcing everyone else to take a me-too approach against you.
Apple is the best disruptive example. It improved what already existed. Apple made customers say, “Wow, I didn’t know I needed that two days ago, but now I‘ve got to have it.”
A vision care client of ours disrupted the contact lens market in the 1980s when it introduced colored lenses. People were using contact lens for vision correction, but they hadn’t considered them as a way to change their appearance. This breakthrough led to other me-too followers and created an explosive cosmetic lens market that’s still viable today.
It’s always easier to improve upon something that exists. Start with an existing product and figure out how to make it better. The biggest mistake senior leaders make is giving their innovation team a blank sheet of paper and asking for a radical invention.
The team will be inhibited by history. It will remember projects that were shot down by management, ideas that didn’t work in 2008 and couldn’t possibly work now, and it will try to guess what senior managers want to hear
Speed is one important component to winning the disruptive war. Coming in third will get you nowhere. The best way to overcome barriers to speed is to edit the playbook. Get rid of nonvalue-added steps in the development process that unnecessarily slow things down.
A team member who once had to compile all the data before he submitted a medical device to the FDA may hold every project to the same standard. Just because something was required in 1998 doesn’t mean it is today.
Being first to market with a new product is great, but if it doesn’t have a wow factor then customers may not care. Truly innovative and breakthrough ideas experience blockbuster success. What is your plan to disrupt the competition?