The Disruptive Innovation Theory And Its Applications


Disruptive innovations are innovations aimed at improving products or services in ways that market does not expect. This may be achieved through bringing in innovations whose end product is lower priced or by designing a product for a different set of consumers. An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of customers to access a product or a service that was historically accessible to rich customers only (Christensen, 1997).

Long term success of companies calls for disruptive innovations, which either create new markets or reshape the existing ones by delivering relatively simple, convenient, cheap innovations to a set of customers who have been ignored by industry leaders. (Mark, 2005). Historically, companies dominating given markets have had no interest in pursuing such innovations because of they believed that these innovations do not address needs of their best customers and also due the belief that such innovations may end up bringing low profit margins (Mark, 2005). This can be attributed to the fact that such companies innovate faster than customers lives change. Consequently, they end up making products that are too good, too expensive or too inconvenient for many customers (Christensen, 1997). However, it is only through pursuing sustaining innovations that companies can welcome new entrants that can provide simpler, less expensive and more convenient products to group of customers who are not interested in keeping up with the accelerated pace of innovation change (Christensen, 1997).

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Innovations fall onto a continuum from evolutionary to revolutionary. Evolutionary innovation is important for sustainable mainstream markets as it focuses on improving existing products and services to meet the ever growing demands of customers (Hill and Jones, 1998). Markets are relatively low for evolutionary innovation because the focus is essentially on the same segment of customers. On the other hand, revolutionary breakthroughs lie at the core of wealth creation and serve as a basis for future products, technologies, services and industries (Christensen, 1997). Disruptive Innovation describes an innovation that is highly revolutionary in which customers are provided with products and services that were not available to them before. It represents a new paradigm of customer offering that can generate new net wealth whilst transforming or displacing some already established markets, forcing established companies to lose market share and collapse (Christensen, 1997). For this reason, the market and environmental uncertainty is high.

Low end disruption is said to take place when the rate of product improvement exceed the rate of customer's adoption to the new performance. The product performance in such a case overshoots the needs of certain customers. This calls for a disruptive technology into the market to provide a product with lower performance which exceeds requirements of certain customers and gain a foothold in market (Mark, 2005).

In low end disruption, the disruptor focuses on satisfying the least profitable customer, who is reluctant to pay premium for product improvement. When the disruptor gains success in this customer segment, it then seeks to improve its profit margins. In order to gain profit margins, the disruptor must enter customer segment where customers are willing to pay more for better quality. For this quality product to be achieved, the disruptor must bring innovation (Christensen, 1995).

Use of Disruptive Theory in Schools during Teaching Practices

Lack of innovation in education sector has undermined its effectiveness and it is no longer hope for future generations. Skills being offered in many schools do not nurture international leadership and market (Katrina, 2010). It is only revolutionary change that can disrupt the flawed educational system and set students on achievement path. Students need intrinsic motivation in order to get the optimal value out of their time in class and therefore instruction should be appealing to each student's individual interests and learning styles (Danneels, 2004).

Pressure has recently generated an urgent need for change in education approach today. This can be explained by declining government revenues for allocation to higher education, increasing education expenses for students and parents and the pressure from government, business and higher education pleading for efficiency and more productivity in education realm. This calls for disruption in education and teaching practice. Recent research has shown that students performed better in online courses than face to face courses, while courses that blended both online and face to face instruction yielded the largest gains (Katrina, 2010). This is because the blend gives students a chance to spend more time on given tasks, more control over their learning and provides students with greater opportunities for reflection (Kop, 2008).

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Disruptive theory should be used in teaching practice because it brings continuing improvement for students' performance, gives a chance to students, faculty and parents to select a learning pathway that suits individual learners and could be used to address teacher shortages and cut down learning cost. Disruptive learning also results from explosion of tools allowing learners to produce their own content and seek help from tutoring software (Katrina, 2010).

Disruptive theory in teaching and learning practice can be used to ensure that teachers place students at the center of the learning experience. This gives a greater focus on student- generated content as students use collaborative tools such as web 2.0 applications and modular tutoring while emphasizing on uses of automated instruction, self publishing and peer to peer networking (Anderson, 2008).

Use of disruptive theory in teaching practice enables education stakeholders to focus on the education needs of majority of students bringing convenience and service at a lower cost and more effective education. It also means designing instructions that encourage learners to read, ponder and discuss in order to shape their understanding of content, evaluate their knowledge and also create new knowledge (Anderson, 2008).

By employing disruptive theory in teaching practice, the teacher can easily analyze needs of learners, design the instruction, develop self help tools for learners as well as the course content, answer questions and guide the learners. The teacher will be more informed when designing the assessments to establish if learning has taken place and address learners challenges, especially those who are not well equipped to learn (Kop, 2008).

Disruptive learning ensures that the learning process is student-centered, flexible enough to accommodate different learning styles and learner interests. It provides necessary support and ensures that learners are actively involved in doing the work. It should be designed to provide options motivate students to experiment, improve and find solutions to problems. It provides connections to student's lives, employment industry and local communities and therefore it should be embraced (Anderson, 2008).

Elements of Innovation and Change and Their Dynamics

One of the main elements of innovation and change is innovation strategy and creativity. Organizations need to strategize on where to focus resources and how to focus so as to achieve their aims and objectives. This may involve developing new services for clients or providing a service to a completely new set of clients. All innovations begin with creative ideas within an organization (Hill and Jones, 1998).

The other element of innovation and growth is the innovation skill. This involves developing new capabilities as well as enhanced competencies within the organization and sharing them among various constituencies of the organization. Organizations should innovate on how to build their own set of skills and competencies to get the job done and provide their clients with new capabilities to improve their quality of life (Christopher, 1982).

Innovation shared values is another element of innovation and change. This entails building on a strong shared beliefs and common goals in an organization to achieve aspirations and strategies that achieve desirable initiatives. Successful innovative organizations are the ones founded on strong shared values and beliefs. Such organizations are always changing their approaches to impart and build on these beliefs in the society (Christopher, 1982).

An innovation system is an essential element of innovation and change. It is the dynamic changing of how daily business of an organization is done or how products and services are delivered to customers. Innovative new technologies in any organization may help improve its performance as important resources become scarce (Christopher, 1982).

The last element of innovation and change is the innovation structure. Changing organization's design or network in innovative ways can create exciting new products or even new businesses that redefine who does what and how the pieces of work together can help the organization to improve on its efficiency and effectiveness (Anderson, 2008).

Dynamic Plans for Change

Planning change in an organization involves evaluation, planning, organizing, communicating, negotiating, managing resources, analysis, problem solving and decision making. Fruitful dynamic plans for change in any organization calls for individuals and teams to challenge existing ways of working, identify options for innovation and change, they identify vision, goals, objectives, timescales and resources. They then agree on plans for change with decision makers and start implementing the agreed change (Danneels, 2004).

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In order to bring change in an organization, there must be user assessment. One must understand the user market, potential users of the new product, technology or service as well as the user capabilities and needs. This is followed by technology assessment to establish characteristics of technology in relation to adoption. This should put into account the relative advantage of such technology, complexity, cost of implementing, cost of success and cost of failure. Once technology assessment has been done, the company should develop transfer strategy, by using methods that effectively deliver desired results to the end user and involving users in a meaningful manner. This is followed by implementation by getting appropriate information, goods or services to the right people in a timely fashion. Finally, there must be a follow- up and evaluation. Feedback from users is essential so that the organization can effectively evaluate the value of its efforts in bringing change (Hill and Jones, 1998).

How Change Can be a Catalyst for Innovation.

Hard times can encourage entrepreneurship and business creation. For any organization to remain competitive it must embrace innovation and take advantage of new technologies and market trends. Innovative businesses only thrive where the right financial architecture is in place (Katrina, 2010). Change provides a framework for organizations to become competitive in the world market. It makes private industry and higher education to be strong advocates at moving governments from controlling, regulating and protecting system to one that facilitates, fosters and beings a catalyst for growth and innovation.

The ultimate key for innovation is to start with customer needs and work backwards by using technology and research to come up with products and services that meet customer demands. This calls for change in design, productivity and the nature of services that an organization provides in order to cope with advancing technology, dynamic customer needs and also incorporate new customers.