What is Disruptive Innovation?

February 14, 2023

In this short video, Scott Anthony of Dartmouth College, Fiona Murray of MIT, and Alex Slawsby of InnoLead talk about disruptive innovation — including how the term is often overused.

“The way that I define disruption is an innovation that transforms an existing market, or creates a new one, by making the complicated simple, or the expensive affordable,” says Scott Anthony, Clinical Professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and Managing Director at Innosight. That definition “also hints to some of the dilemmas of it, because it’s going in and competing in a very different way, often in very new spaces that in the early stages make little sense to the market-leading incumbent…” Both Anthony and Fiona Murray of MIT reference the research of the late Clay Christensen, an author and Harvard Business School professor.

“I find it useful to think about disruption as a question — who might be disrupted? — as opposed to a definition of a thing,” says Murray, Associate Dean of Innovation and Inclusion at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

“If it’s something new that causes an incumbent — an organization already there — to not see it, or see it and dismiss it, or see it and not be able to respond to it, because it might break the capability or business model of that incumbent organization, I think it is disruptive…” says Alex Slawsby, Chief Growth Officer of InnoLead.

This is the sixth video in our series on “Defining Your Terms.”