Disruptive Innovation

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Navigating the Contested Rise of Fintech

Technology adoption based on the technology alone is bound to miss the mark. Fintech will not disrupt the financial industry overnight, but when it does, it will reflect a larger and more complex social debate than its inherent technological or economic merits. Managers need to get involved in this debate now, so they can navigate the uncertainty, and decide to adopt it — or not.

How a Group of NASA Renegades Transformed Mission Control

  • Read Time: 8 min 

NASA’s Pirates were rebel innovators who created an award-winning mission control system for the shuttle program in record time, on a shoestring budget, and in the face of political resistance. Such renegades are committed to elevating business capabilities and future proofing them for novel challenges, often despite opposition from the status quo. Organizations that want to be ambidextrous need to create a climate that fosters such renegades and nurtures them when they appear.

Four Ways to Get Your Innovation Unit to Work

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Considering how deeply companies rely on innovation, it is astonishing how bad most of them are at finding, developing, and implementing new ideas. When it comes to innovation, there is no single best way to structure and operate internal teams. The real key to success is to find the tools and structure that fit your company’s needs, strategies, and culture.

How to Read and Respond to Weak Digital Signals

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 8 min 

In the digital age, the competitive landscape can be transformed in the blink of an eye. Companies can use weak digital signals to help redefine their offerings and the scale and scope of how they compete. Companies that can’t do this in a timely manner put themselves at a competitive disadvantage because they must invest in additional resources to catch up.

Nondisruptive Creation: Rethinking Innovation and Growth

Many people have come to view disruption as a synonym for innovation. This single-minded focus leads companies to overlook an alternative path to growth: the nondisruptive creation of brand-new markets where none existed before. It’s time to embrace the idea that companies can create without destroying — and expand the conversation about the problems they can solve and the opportunities they can seize.

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How Big Data and AI Are Driving Business Innovation in 2018

According to a 2018 NewVantage Partners survey, executives now see a direct correlation between big data capabilities and AI initiatives. For the first time, large corporations report having direct access to meaningful volumes and sources of data that can feed AI algorithms to produce a range of business benefits from real-time consumer credit approval to new product offers.

Why China Is the World’s Innovation Role Model

  • Read Time: 3 min 

There’s a lot of talk of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but there’s another way to think about China: as an innovation role model. “Anybody involved in international business needs to treat China not just as a place to sell, but also as a place to learn,” wrote Edward S. Steinfeld and Troels Beltoft in MIT Sloan Management Review in 2014. China, they argued, is “becoming the best place to go if you want to learn how to make ideas commercially viable.” Three years later, this is truer than ever.

How Big Data Is Empowering AI and Machine Learning at Scale

Big Data is moving to a new stage of maturity — one that promises even greater business impact and industry disruption over the course of the coming decade. Organizations are now combining the agility of Big Data processes with the scale of AI capabilities to accelerate the delivery of business value.

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The Real Lessons From Kodak’s Decline

Former photography giant Kodak is often cited as having lacked the vision to recognize the effects digital technology would have on its business. The reality of what happened — and the true lessons of Kodak’s experience with digital disruption — highlight the complex challenges posed by fast-moving technological innovation.

Five Steps to Strategic Sustainability and Abundance

Kenyan mobile money pioneer M-Pesa is just one of many companies in developing economies that build virtuous cycles where solving ecological problems and building resilient communities opens new opportunities. Adopting an abundant perspective, argues author Jay Friedlander, provides concrete economic, social, and environmental objectives that unleash new possibilities.

Debating Disruptive Innovation

Few MIT Sloan Management Review articles garner as much attention as Andrew A. King and Baljir Baatartogtokh’s “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” After surveying 79 industry experts, King and Baatartogtokh concluded that many of the cases cited as examples of disruptive innovation by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen and his coauthor Michael E. Raynor did not fit four of the theory’s key elements well. Here, three experts provide responses to continue the conversation.

“How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” was the question raised by an article in the fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. In this issue, several more experts weigh in on the topic.

Keep Calm and Manage Disruption

Disruption can be averted, and many businesses manage through it by beating the new competition, joining them, or waiting them out. “To be sure, facing disruption is no picnic,” writes Joshua S. Gans, author of The Disruption Dilemma. “But it also isn’t the existential threat that so many see it as.” Many businesses are finding ways to weaken disruptive events, sometimes by investing aggressively in the new innovation after entrants had brought it to market or by acquiring the entrants and the actual disruption.

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From the Editor: Disruption Everywhere?

The Fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review has two big themes: developing tomorrow’s leaders, and disruption. In a special report on leadership, four articles explore how to engage, keep, and train the next generation of managers. “Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection” highlights the detection techniques to become more resilient. And “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” takes a deep dive into Clayton M. Christensen’s influential theory of disruptive innovation.

Image courtesy of Flickr user A. Strakey.

How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?

Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has been very influential. But how well does the theory describe what happens in business? The authors of this article surveyed industry experts for each of 77 case examples of disruptive innovation found in two of Christensen’s seminal books. The results suggest that many of the cases do not correspond closely with four elements of the theory of disruptive innovation — and the theory may not fit as many situations as is often assumed.

How is Digitization Affecting Your Business?

  • Read Time: 2 min 

How much of a threat does digital disruption present to your business? A short online questionnaire from Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner, both of MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research, helps assess digital risk. “Although sweeping technology-enabled change often takes longer than we expect, history shows that the impact of such change can be greater than we ever imagined,” they write. “Think steam engines, cars, airplanes, TVs, telephones and, most recently, mobile phones and e-books.”

Image courtesy of chotuKool.

How Disruptive Will Innovations from Emerging Markets Be?

Companies located in developing countries are currently serving billions of local consumers with innovative and inexpensive products. But what happens when more of those companies make the leap into more developed markets? Is it inevitable that these companies will overtake the more developed companies? Using historical examples, this article looks at how disruptors and incumbents compete. For incumbents, knowing that much of their fate rests in their hands is half the battle won.

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