By now you have probably heard of Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen’s seminal book “The Innovators Dilemma” and perhaps may have read it a few times since its release in 1997. Even if you haven’t read or heard of it there are a few lessons to be learned and heeded from the model Professor Christensen proposed. Specifically, that if you focus too much on what you are doing today you will miss opportunities that can save your business. The same is true with your career.
How can you use Disruptive Innovation (DI) to advance your thinking and your career?
First, let’s think about what Disruptive Innovation means.
Using DI thinking can certainly impact long held business models. A few business that have been impacted by Disruptive Innovations are listed below and followed by some of the businesses that stepped in to replace them.
- Tower Records –> Napster (now Pandora, Spotify, iTunes and many others)
- Blockbuster –> Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.
- Travel Agents / Agencies –> Expedia, Kayak, et al
In the first example the original disruptive innovator, Napster, has already been DI’d by new entrants. Which only proves the point that DI thinking is an effort that never ends. Very much like your career. You need to constantly be on the lookout for a different way to do something.
The same principles can be applied to your Career Development. For example:
- In education: Instead of 4 years for university –> Consider MOOC’s.
- Instead of climbing the corporate ladder –> Create your own ladder
- In lieu of solving the same old problems –> Develop new ways of thinking that focus on higher value customer needs
First, seek to understand the business you are really in. Make no mistake… a career is a business. It’s the most important business you will ever invest your time and energy into and you’ll be doing it for a long time. So, make the most of it.
To understand your business and to think a little more sideways you should start by asking different questions, experimenting with new models, and looking for different ways to add value in ways that have not been considered.
For example, if you went to school to become an engineer:
- What are you actually creating?
- What benefit are you really delivering?
- Are there different ways you can deliver value to the customer?
These same questions can be applied to almost any career. Whether you studied accounting, drama or zoology.
Seek to Out Innovate Yourself
This may seem like an oxymoron, but when you think about it you need stay ahead of the competition. Where the competition is not necessarily the person in the cube next to you. The competition is yourself. You want to do more tomorrow. But, you don’t always need to work longer hours. The old cliché is true here… you want to Work Smarter, Not Harder. When you do your ability to brand yourself as an innovator will be preceded by your ability to think differently, ask tough questions and deliver stellar results.
What are using Disruptive Innovation on today?