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Building Disruptive Innovation

By David Orren

In a previous blog post I discussed key steps in successfully building high performing teams through something I call GOALS. I discussed goal setting, taking advantage of opportunities, implementing actions, learning, and developing systems to ensure momentum is achieved and sustained. This post follows up on that thinking with DISRUPTIVE, an acronym I use to describe the strategies employed by companies who successfully create disruptive innovation. 

In this blog disruptive innovation is used to describe a set of new solutions that substantially and positively collapses and realigns the cost and value chain in a target sector.

Successful disruptors inspire their organisation to think outside of their immediate daily experience. Employees are permitted and supported by the company culture to explore ‘impossible’ solutions. Innovation becomes the company mission and is reflected in the vision. Permission and indeed a demand for innovation is communicated at every level across the organisation and in the relationships with development partners, with key suppliers and with early adopter customers. 

D = Decision

Being disruptive requires a senior level decision to commit the organisation to an almost ‘impossible’ but compelling goal. Management shows committment at all levels to a new future that is clearly stated, beginning with changes to their own contribution.

I = Individuals

Every leadership team is made up of individuals that bring different strengths to the table. Successful disruptors tend to extend the rolew of leadership further into teh organisation, recruiting infleuntial employees early into any change strategy.  These include the few key individuals with particular knowledge and skills that most effectively align with the critical path goals of the program. More importantly, the influence of the change leadership team is often well-balanced by the experience and capability of other program team members. These participants becme influential change leaders outside the change team and across the organisation and value chains. 

S = Stretch

Every successful strategic business plan includes goals. Disruptors do not settle for easy-to-achieve goals that make everyone feel good; they strive to set and achieve ‘imposzible’ goals that stretch everyone involved. By its very definition, disruption requires doing things a fundamentaly new and different way that realigns the value chain inernally and externally. That cannot happen if a company and its staff are not themselves wlling and able to be stretched and challenged.

R = Reality

Next, successful innovation programs ensure team members and stakeholders have a clear understanding of what happens if the company does succeed, and also if it does not succeed. Softening the edges of reality will not help, either. The reality of success versus failure in the future state needs to be as clear and as plain as possible.

U = Ubiquity

Ubiquitous changes are a key characteristic of business disruption. For the disruptive change to become a normal future state, new thinking must become embedded into every part of the organisation and stakeholder/participant relationship. Establish what is essential to engage every stakeholder with an effective value exchange at every level.

P = Plan

A formal plan that is owned, set, managed and communicated by the leadership team tasked to lead the change is essential to success.  Successful planning is both tactical and strategic in nature. Participants understand where the change is headed, how they can engage, contribute and impact outcomes. 

T = Timeline

Achieving goals and creating ubiquitous changes cannot be open ended. Successful timelines are realistic, they reflect major milestones, and support close coordination around critical processes and key steps. The goal is to empower participants to make make effective decisions and to move quickly to acheive their goals without waiting for micro decisions to be approved. 

I = Imagine

Imagining the future to create an image of the end state – ie of the results we want – and working backwards on how we can get there can help to shake out limited thinking. Making the future you are all striving for tangible in some way, gives participants something to shoot for. 

V = Vision

Successeful disruptive innovators develop a vision that explains the future they seek to create. This can describe the company’s role in making the desired future a reality.  Imagination reveals what that future looks like; vision tells team members how that future will be realised and what your organisation’s role and contribution will be.

E = Engage & Empower

It is vital to engage stakeholders through progressively developed clear deliverables, and with the necessary authority to get things done. When everyone is engaged and empowered, things move forward.

Business disruption rarely happens by accident. Disrupting an industry is the result of a concerted effort by executive management and the teams they lead implementing the right core strategies and principles. If you want your company to be disruptive, you need to begin by being DISRUPTIVE in the way you lead your people and run your business. It’s that simple.

For a confidential discussion on strategies and potential for disruptive innovation in your market, call David Orren at 07914-223 691, or email

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