W. Chan Kim
Distinguished Professor of Strategy and International Management, Emeritus
Affiliate Professor of Strategy
Innovation; Strategy; Innovation Strategy; New Product Development
In recent years disruption has become the battle cry of business. Disruption occurs when an innovation creates a new market and business model that cause established players to fall. We love the ease of taking, sharing, and storing digital photographs — a disruption that led to the demise of both Kodak and the once ubiquitous film market. Millions of us benefit from Uber’s driver-on-demand service, even as it displaces existing taxi companies.Not surprisingly, many have come to view disruption as a synonym for innovation. Scores of articles offer advice on how to succeed as a disruptive innovator and how to defend against a disruptive challenger. Corporate leaders are continually warned that disruption lurks around every corner and that the only way to survive, succeed, and grow is to disrupt their industries or even their own companies.But is disruption the only way to innovate and grow? Is it even the best way? The authors' research and analysis over the last three decades suggest that the answer is no. Disruption may be what people talk about, and it’s certainly important and all around us. But the authors found that a single-minded focus on disruption leads companies to overlook another building block of innovation and growth — one that the authors would argue is more important.