The lexicon of disruptive innovation


There is a language around ‘disruptive innovation’ that gets translated and interpreted according to who’s using it. Progressive businesses, prepared to take a calculated risk, apply the words to good effect: innovation means what it means. What it doesn’t mean is a new colour, size, pack count or seasonal SKU. But sometimes that’s the best you can do. After all, according to published research:*

  • 66% of those surveyed believe their organisations will not survive without innovation
  • 24% are fully confident they have defined the skills and activities they need to be innovative
  • 37% say their organisation has made no, or only minimal, changes to its innovation approach
  • 50% do not believe their leaders fully display the vision and passion needed to make innovation happen

Here, in a few short definitions, we have tried to spell out the dichotomy innovation faces, for a plan that future proofs you and proactively encourages growth. If your business interprets these words differently, perhaps we should talk.

disrupt (verb) Interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem

Synonyms: throw into confusion, play havoc with, derange, turn upside down, make a mess of.

innovation (noun) The action or process of innovating -“innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organisation”

 change, revolution, transformation, metamorphosis, renovation.

More: a new method, idea or product

entropy (noun) The degree of disorder or randomness in the system – 
”the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time.”

Synonyms: lack of order or predictability, gradual decline into disorder.

strategy (noun) A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim – 
”time to develop a coherent economic strategy.”

 master plan, grand design, game plan, plan of action, blueprint.

hyperbolic discounting The tendency for people to choose a smaller reward sooner over a larger reward later.

For more on this subject read: “Decide today and live with the consequences.”

*Findings based on a survey of senior executives across the globe. PA Consulting, Innovation Matters