Innovation and Disruptive Necessity


Is the world getting smaller, or are we seeing further?

Today we stand on the shoulders of giants in a rapidly changing world. In order to gain the competitive edge needed to stay relevant, it is imperative that businesses seek to disrupt their own business model before the competition does. Innovate or die the adage goes.

Disruptive innovations create new markets by applying values that ultimately, and unexpectedly overtake existing markets. “The theory holds that established companies, acting rationally and carefully to stay on top, leave themselves vulnerable to upstarts who find ways to do things more cheaply, often with a new technology,” says Drake Bennett,staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Businesses we thought “too big to fail” are now gone; victims of their own inability to adapt to the changing landscape that not only requires innovation, but requires the process of innovation to be sustainable and repeatable. And while some may argue that disruptive innovation is a competitive strategy for an “age seized by terror”, I would say disruptive innovation is an argument against complacency, made more relevant by a landscape transformed by technology. Technology isn’t just changing the way in which we do things – it is changing us.

Enter Generation Flux.

Coined by innovative thought-leader Fast Company; Gen Flux refers to the people who are adapting to disruption, embracing it, and succeeding. Unlike Generation X and Generation Y, Generation Flux refers to a psychographic profile and not a demographic one. Flux is a generation that is not defined by age, race, or location. According to FC, “what defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates—and even enjoys—re-calibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.” The most important skill to have, is the ability to acquire new skills.

It requires people that do not fear change – because without risk, there can be no innovation. Risk requires an investment in people, time, and capital. It commands a willingness to invest without ROI assurance.

One company often finding itself at the front of the pack in terms of innovation is Nike. One of their recent inventions is the Flyknit Racer, a feather-light knitted shoe that required Nike to re-invent their entire manufacturing process. It required bringing together teams of programmers, engineers and designers to create the technology behind the shoe. When asked about the ideas that fuel the machine, Nike CEO Mark Parker puts it aptly, “companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it.”

That dear reader, is the mark of Generation Flux.