It's happened to more companies than you can list: an enormously successful team of innovators begin making hasty decisions and soon the company is in decline -- or worse -- goes completely out of business. Why does this happen?
Not always, but often it is a symptom of disruptive innovation. A company starts out with an innovative concept. It might not be perfect, but it's good enough and unique enough to draw masses of customers. For a time, they improve their product, perhaps lower their prices, and continue to grow and get better. Then the same innovative team that brought such success over-innovates, leading to failure.
|Sometimes disruptive innovation is just a matter of losing sight of where you've been, what you're doing, and where you set out to go.|
Disruptive innovation is when innovation derails the organization because it becomes disruptive instead of driving. It happens when the organization loses focus of who they are and what they are about. Here is how you can prevent performance improvements from deteriorating into disruptive innovation at your organization.
Revisit Your Mission and Purpose
Remember that mission statement you have tucked away in that file cabinet? The one covered in dust? Pull it out. Revisit its meaning. What did your organization start out to do? Put what you're doing now into perspective according to what your purpose was from the beginning.
Review Your Success Stories
What successes have you to your credit? What made them a success? What has driven your success and improvement since? This is a natural progression from revisiting your mission statement and organizational purpose -- it helps get you back to where you saw improvements in performance and keeps you off the cliff of decline into disruptive innovation.
Revisit Your Failures
What hasn't worked? Why hasn't it been successful? Now you're delving into which paths lead toward that cliff so you can steer your team back away from it. Looking at your failures isn't as fun as revisiting the successes, but it's crucial for avoiding more failure in the future. A good example of this is when Coca-Cola released New Coke. The public outrage was overwhelming. Coca-Cola immediately backed off and released Classic Coke, steering away from their failure and back toward their success.
|What worked before? Why? How can you build on or repeat that success?|
Evaluate Where You Are
Where is your organization -- right now -- in relation to those success stories and failures? Are you heading toward the cliff or away from it? Take stock of what you're doing to improve performance and how effective those steps are. Be willing to admit what's working and what isn't. You don't have to reinvent the wheel if making a better wheel or a bigger wheel or a cheaper wheel is what the public wants from you.
Define and Set a Course for the Future
With your mission, successes, and failures in clear sight, set a plan for the future. What drives innovation best in your organization and what tends to derail your team's focus? Improving performance should always be a goal, but when innovation becomes disruptive and destructive, it's time to pull out that map and reroute your team. For example, when working to improve your network performance, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Choose a proven path and let it guide you to the best course of action.
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