[Editorial Notes: Guest article by Parag Arora, who earlier cofounded Plustxt.]
The frustration of finding an innovation is killing your innovation. The frustration of thinking how your competitor or peers are coming up with those innovative ideas and you striking hard, trying to prove point is exactly taking you away from the innovation process. You need to get out and follow time tested principles to create disruptive innovations.
During the starting of my professional life, I had the same frustration. After founding two companies and doing a successful exit in Plustxt recently, I have realized and have started ritualizing experiments on the process to bring a disruptive innovation out to the market. Like most of our talents and skills we have acquired, disruptive innovations are made happen by you following a process of loop to learn and execute. They are not EUREKA moments. Would share my experiences along with learnings borrowed from books I have read and videos I have watched which I have always tried to apply when thinking of disruptions.
The first thing to know about disruptive innovation is, disruptive innovation need not necessarily be a technically advanced or complicated solution, but it can be more accessible, cheaper, fast or easy to use.
A disruptive innovation happens when people have job to do. There are people who have a particular job to do but they don’t find a better solution to do this. There are two kind of people I am referring here. One are the direct consumers who are already trying out ways to do their job. Others are non – consumers, who are not trying to do this job, they think they don’t have much problems doing this job and are less demanding. But their life would drastically change if they start doing this without any factors inhibiting them consuming and they don’t know about it. They still have job to do. Innovations which focus around people of first type is sustaining innovation. Real disruptive innovations happen when you start focussing on non – consumers too.
So, when people have important, unsatisfied jobs to be done, there is an opportunity of disruptive innovation. Getting the problem is the toughest part of creating a disruptive innovation. While thinking for solutions, try to look for markets where there are less demanding people too or non – consumers as explained above. Customers and problem in hand has to be put in the centre while finding solutions by debating and visualizing with team or doing focussed group research learning consumer behavior. Also, have in your mind that first strategy mostly fails, so do not over invest while doing this and work very lean until disruptive innovation is acknowledged.
Also, as an individual, being disciplined and efficient won’t suffice at all. You need to have strong operative skills and well as great entrepreneurial skills.
For disruptive, be aware of challenges you will face. For solutions, be aware of alternatives you have and be open to all while being a judge of which one to go ahead with and why to pivot if required. F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked in the late 1930?s
”The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
Three important practices are highly advised (by Scott Anthony, president of Innosight)
1: Spend your weekends doing activities open to ambiguity. People spend doing part time business just for this reason, some do music or dance classes, participate in events etc.
2: Consciously complicate life e.g., attend trade shows, shows..
3: Look for creative people around you and involve them in your discussions of finding problems, solutions and listening to them about their recent projects.