Disruptive Innovation is Just Good Product Management

Over the last few weeks I have added the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcast to my listening list. Episode 81 of their series is titled Disruptive Innovation. I have mixed reactions whenever I hear that term innovation. On one hand, I am fascinated by companies who continually drive innovation and yet on the other hand, I am turned off by talk about innovation because it sounds like a shortcut to business growth.

I was very interested to hear what the Harvard Business review called “Disruptive Innovation” had to say. The podcast was an interview with Scott Anthony, Author of “Innovation Insights Blog“.

The interview was really interesting and I liked the key messages that Scott used to describe how to achieve Disruptive Innovation.

Firstly he describes Disruptive Innovation as the result of a product or service that solves a customer problem in a way that is more accessible, convenient and simple than other options in the market place. It is not all about technology change. For successful innovation, it is the business model rather than the underlying technology that drives the disruption.

“Not winning by doing it better, but winning by doing it differently.”

To identify opportunities for Disruptive Innovation, Scott says

“Look for markets where there is some kind of constraint that inhibits consumption. Where is there something that makes it difficult to solve problems in their lives? Sometimes they don’t have skills, sometimes they don’t have money, sometimes they can’t access the solution and sometimes it just takes too long. Find one of those barriers to consumption and see how you can obliterate it.”

Try and identify where people have important, unsatisfied jobs to be done. Where is there a problem that a customer faces that
they can’t adequately solve today? If you can find that unsatisfied customer and solve their pain you often have the ticket to disruptive innovation.

Next, think about how you can play the innovation game differently. Remember it is not about making it better. It is about making it simpler, cheaper, more accessible, more affordable. That is what disruption is all about.”

To try and uncover the opportunities Scott recommends a number of different research methods to try and understand the pain points in the market, including focus groups, customer observation, customer reactions to early prototypes. You are looking for the articulated and unarticulated needs.

The key is to put the customer and their problem at the centre of the innovation equation.”

So why is this important here on a Product Management blog?

Well to me this whole process is the very essence of good Product Management.

When someone asks me what the Brainmates business is about, I tell them that we work with organisations to help them identify customer needs and pain points in a market place, help them deliver solutions that meet those needs and return value back to the business.

I should just tell them that we specialise in Disruptive Innovation.

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