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Sustaining Innovation = Improvements in Execution in Existing Markets

Posted by Thomas Edwards on April 19, 2021 6:30 AM EDT
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For most mid-level and senior managers, disruptive innovation is not the chocie that.....

...they will make when it comes to leveraging innovation for organizational excellence, growth, competitive response or robust improvements in operational effectiveness and execution.

All of Dr. Clayton Christensen's research on innovation points out that sustaining innovation is the likely choice that most mid-level and senior level managers will make when tasked with the responsbility to build innovation into their atrategic plans.  And when tasked with measuring the results of their innovation efforts and building thoser esults into their operations budgets, you can be sure that the sustaining choice will be the one that rational, successfuly and managers of experience will amke.  Vitrually every time, no exceptions.

In this space we have written and their is an extraordinary amount of reseaqrch as to why that pheonomenon exists.  It's almos tnever the "NIHS" ("Not Invented Here Synsdrome).  Nor is is likely to be the "WTIB" excuse (We've Tried It Before).  

Truly disruptive breaktrhough solutioins don't make sense in the context of getting operational excellence results in the near term.  Rather, the default type of innovation will always be sustaining innovation which makes the curent business model, customer based and dimension of competitive success go for bolder improvements and changes in the current business model.  The sustaining approach is more likely to succeed, existing customers are more likely to favor it, its competiive advantage is clear and can be described in tangibile terms against clear and current competitors and their offerings. And a sutaining innovation it will be one that has a high probablility of delivering success against traditonal operationals objectives such as market share, revenues and profits and expense reduction, quality improvements, customer satisfaction and cycle time.

However, sustaining innovations will almost never deliver the market creating results that disruptive innovation approaches can potentially deliver for they don't compete against non-consumption of the given product or service by the much larger marketplace of commercial enterprises, nonprofits or individual consumers who don not currently purchase the defined product or service.

Thus, when entrepreneurs are bringing new concepts to the marketplace and need to build profitable revenues quickly while selling to existing commercial organizations, nonprofits and consumer segments, it will always be better to choose a sustaining improvement model and best to start with a bold improvement to an existing feature that can be bundled in by the existing entiities either as an alternative to their current product or service or as a complementary feature which when offered along with the current product features can be a more productive solution overall for the existing customers of these existing entities.

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