The business’ culture will often decide what opportunities are exploited and which ones are ignored. Business culture also influences which tools, practices, and methods are used when developing new product development and innovation strategies. For example, product development methods that emphasize technical functionality, but fail to similarly emphasize the role of customer development (particularly in unproven markets), can derail a company’s effort to enter new markets or expand on existing areas (Steve Blank, 2013).
In an article of the MIT Sloan Review, researchers King and Bartartogtokh (2015) investigated Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruption to better understand the model. Underlining all drivers across the model is an understanding the customer’s needs (current and future).
Four factors are found to in influence market disruption:
- technology absorption,
- sustaining innovation,
- disruptive innovation, and
- customer adoption.
Additional factors unanticipated by the model also play a significant role. In particular, business agility and responsiveness to targeting and serving the ‘incumbent’s less valued (and thus less served) customers’ represents an opportunity to grab marketshare.
These findings show some cause of optimism for startups and new entrants who are interested in entering existing or new markets or creating new products.
Taking the perspective of startups in mind, the following 11-insights can be incorporated into disruption efforts at the stages of idea generation, customer development, customer validation, and product/service development:
There are instances where adopting new technologies is essential to increasing efficiencies and providing added customer value. Aligning technology acquisition with the business’ core competencies and customer needs is key.
Innovative Business Models
Business model innovation represents another significant area to introduce disruption. For example, a new business’ ability to undermine an incumbent through lower innovation is enhanced when a new business model is introduced; as well as when an incumbents existing patents, trademarks, and projected intellectual property limit the incumbents ability to respond.
An incumbent’s over-commitment to their business model can also become a weaknesses that constrains their ability, and willingness, to respond to new entrants. In contrast, new technologies are not disruptive if incumbents are able and willing to respond.
The business’ culture influences what opportunities are exploited and those that are missed. Business’ must continue to:
- Find products and services that play to their strengths,
- Identifying changing needs and
- Opportunities to improve on areas of weakness,
- as well as Seeking to build the technologies and competencies to serve those needs.
challenges and to establish the product/ service standards for the future. When it comes to disruptive innovation, there is no one-size-fits-all explanation of where the challenges may surface OR solution to solve these problems.
A Product Development Methodology
Steve Blank’s ( adapted, 2013) customer development model provides a general framework for new businesses to develop new innovative products and disrupt the competition. The following documentation and planning tool builds out the product development process to includes both a customer and technical development focus. The following tool depicts these areas of focus as iterative wherein in practice they often overlap and run concurrently (Blank, 2013).
Disruption is within reach for those business’ that have the foresight, the tools, and the commitment.
How is your team supporting product development innovation? Share your comments below.
Travis Barker, MPA GCPM
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Blank, S. (2013). The four steps to the epiphany: Successful strategies for products that win. Pescadero: K & S Ranch.
King, A., & Baatartogtokh, B. (2015, September 15). How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation? Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-useful-is-the-theory-of-disruptive-innovation/