Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Disruptive innovation means doing the same thing in a different way. Or a new thing for the same reason. Or #vodka.

Being disruptive is pretty trendy right now. 

Wearing funky colored socks, designing business cards that contain only a single word, using Yo before you really know what Yo is, eating Phu, growing pubic hair on your face like real hipsters did, buying anything that Elon Musk tells you to buy and munching on cronuts instead of Dunkin Donuts is all so very disruptive, if not totally on-trend. 

But let's face it, it's not really in line with the definition of being disruptive, is it? I mean, disruption occurs when something groundbreaking happens; when a fundamental shift occurs and makes it impossible to go back to what it was like before the disruption. Parenting. Lottery. Death. Those are my top three examples of what causes true disruption. And the key to success is when disruption results in added value. 

Disruptive innovation happens when there is a catalyst for change, a fundamental shift occurs and as a result, a new market is created and an existing market essentially dies. Think eight-track tapes, sanitary napkin belts, land line rotary dial phones, Gutenberg's printing press, tube televisions, etc. 

Therefore, to navigate and optimize disruption as an element in your personal, professional and investment strategy, you must hold a diversified portfolio of interests among innovative industries. As in, be aware. Engage on social media channels. Try new apps. Read the news. Talk to your parents. Ask questions. Also, be friends with people like Mark Cuban. He may not be altogether disruptive, but he certainly attracts high net worth chaos; the fourth and wild card characteristic of disruptive innovation. 

One industry that seems particularly interesting for disruptive innovation is transportation. Not because of my earlier comment about Tesla's Elon Musk but more along the lines of his passion for SpaceX. Transportation as a solution, not an industry, seems to have more promise than finding the next new clear engine or a greener automobile. Instead, I'm talking about looking at the problem from a different angle and seeing a solution that may already exist; then using innovation to build something awesome. 

Wearable technology is, of course, a trendy thing to watch right now. There are smartphones, smarter watches, Google Glass(es) and so much more. Brands are literally racing ahead of each other with each new open source (or not) push of the envelope. But don't stop at the watch. One of my favorite little projects to track is the Samsung's Smart Bike. An article in Slashgear details that the bike will offer "Italian craftsmanship in the digital age," thanks in part to the Maestro Academy and Samsung's own corporate commitment to innovation. It's not yet for sale, but I'm sold. It may not be truly "disruptive" in transforming how humans actually ride bicycles today compared to how we will pedal into the future, but it's certainly setting a tone for the proper marriage of transportation + safety + technology + convenience for what's to come.


And then there are those reports of hover cars. In Israel. For real. BBC News penned an article about a program to offer magnetic hover cars as public transportation on the Israel Aerospace Industries campus in Tel Aviv by the end of 2015. In keeping with the theme of being totally disruptive, passengers will be able to order their ride from their smartphone. Hover cars travel up to nearly 50 mph with commercial vehicles being able to go even faster. (Listen up Amazon!)  Before we know it, the company behind the innovative technology, skyTran, has said that it has plans to move into the US and India once the Israel pilot is deemed a success. 

Once we get self-riding bicycles and driver-less automobiles, then I can start working on developing Vodka powder to add to water bottles, just like Crystal Light except totally better. And extremely disruptive to those concert venues and theme parks who charge $25 per adult drink. Wa-hoo!

What type of disruption are you attracted to? What do you think could be improved through innovation?