Judy Anderson31 July 2017

How to ensure powerful disruptive innovation makes the cut

Disruptive ideas are like an 80’s aerobic class. You know it’s good for you, but it would be so much easier to avoid all that spandex and stay on the couch.

When choosing which ideas to progress, organisations often take the easy way out. This can be because incremental innovations are often:

  • Aligned to current KPI’s
  • Involve less work and energy, or
  • Easy to visualise working in practice.

As humans, we like the certainty of an incremental idea. The trouble is, incremental innovation is only going to get you so far.

To achieve sustainable growth, organisations need to progress both incremental and disruptive innovations. But organisations don’t make decisions, people do. As a facilitator, I’ve observed hundreds of people make decisions on thousands of ideas. Time and time again, people ‘lean into’ incremental ideas over disruptive ideas.

So how can you avoid this? Let’s go through some ways you can ensure disruptive innovation makes the cut:

  1. Prime people for disruptive thinking. When briefing people on the challenge, let them know that incremental ideas are ‘off the table’. This will channel thinking into disruptive areas at the onset of idea generation.
  2. Pre-cull ideas before the final decision. Take a break between idea generation & decision-making to review all the ideas generated. Remove any incremental ideas from the group. This way, only the best breakthrough thinking is being presented to decision makers.
  3. Prime people to choose disruptive ideas – when briefing people prior to decision-making, anchor them in the scope of the challenge (that you’re looking for disruptive innovation!).
  4. Get the best brains making the decision. Hand pick who you invite to make a decision on which ideas progress and which get left behind. Consider people who will not be under the influence of internal variables such as KPI’s or work load.


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