Self-Disruption: How to hand off, not kill disruptive innovation

It is amazing to me when I hear start-ups trash the processes of larger companies and those companies judging quality from start-ups. Al509960952l this is

built on outdated models of business thinking. Start-up innovation frameworks are valuable to large companies seeking far outside the radar thinking as is process, roles and proper scale-able operational execution to start-ups.

When an established leader in any market acquires truly disruptive product through acquisition or self-generated innovation the challenge is not how to grow it but how to bring it to market. Using the forward horizons model a company will in 3-5 years obsolete current products. For start-ups this is not the issue as it is for the market leader, start-ups are in expansion mode.

So how do you move from current SKUs to new SKUs? Current operations to new operations? The answer is in strategy and planning early. Product managers on the current product are tasked with managing that product life-cycle for maximum ROI, keeping their customers raving fans and the tactic is one plus feature development. For main street products the innovation parameters are tight, too much and disruption equals churn opportunities for the base. Operations are in a productivity mode not an expansion mode.

The first step is to establish the new disruptive product as the point on the horizon for your strategy then work with your existing product life-cycles to move as far as they can in that direction. Dropping road-map development completely does not benefit your position in the market. The goal is to set a trajectory that leverages your lead position and allows the base to move when it works for them, not you. Remember all decisions are about the market not about you!

Move fast up the product life-cycle, to category, one plus product strategies, services extensions, partnerships, then jump to platform immediately. Think of the Smartphone and how fast Apple moved into apps, cloud and built a strong platform that Android still can only shadow. There are companies now in the airborne drone and robotics world already positioning their products as platforms for specific application integration by others. Their robotic device is a smartphone with and SDK and API for any industry that wants to jump on board.

The new and existing product strategies must fly in sync at all times, my analogy is in-flight refueling of the company revenue stream and base. As new tech goes through what can be a new more robust evaluation and definition powered by a strong stage-gate front end, the current base products will help test with their customer base yes but also through feature testing that will be afterburners on any Lean process.

Now the sunset of your current base is a soft hand off, you are not forcing late adopters to void their risk boundaries or loose early adopters to competitors, all while leading. Separate the strategies of either product group or technology and neither flies as fast, as far or as well.

This is the main argument I have against the practice of separating innovation labs from the core business. Yes it is easy to run two cultures in two mostly separate companies rather than go through the storming and norming of cultural change but frankly innovation is happening in every business segment and as the old saying goes change will happen and It is better to be on the guest list then the menu!