Every summer I try to find some time to read books that are not strictly related to the stuff that I know and like. This year the occasion came from LBiQ (link: www.lbiq.net), the magazine of the company where I work. I volunteered to read and write a review for a new in-depth examination of Christensen’s Disruptive innovation theory, applied to current educational practices and their organizational ‘machines’, such as schools and the textbook publishing industry.
I’m sure you’ll wait to read my complete take on the book once the new LBiQ issue goes to print; what is important here is to understand what did I learn from this sort of cross-pollination?
I mean: unless you are into schools and learning theoretical issues (and these aren’t the things I breathe every day), why should you be bothered by this book? I’ve asked myself this question at least 20 times, between page 4 and page 48. Then I realized the book was important to me not because its goal of changing the USA school apparatus.
There are moments in the book when one can understand how big ideas and innovation don’t come by simply asking to your best customers; they will probably be happy with the system, and they could ask your organization for some improvement: a sustaining innovation. Disruptive innovation, on the other side, sparks by observing those who are discontent or, even better, your non-consumption area. Only when you deeply understand what the reasons of non-consumption are, will you see the gaps where innovation can be created. Therefore, user research techniques can be used for facilitating the creation of innovative solutions: primary research and a quasi-ethnographic approach can help understanding the reasons behind non-consumption, and it is able to provide a great deal of insights that will uncover new spaces for disruptive services. It’s not just tweaking and improving existing stuff; it’s a sort of paradigm shift.