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Disruptive Technology: Use and Abuse of the Concept Dr. Michael Bell Chief of Naval Operations (N61F). Presentation to the Information Age Metrics Working Group 23 April 2004. The Innovator’s Dilemma. The Dilemma.

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disruptive technology use and abuse of the concept dr michael bell chief of naval operations n61f

Disruptive Technology: Use and Abuse of the ConceptDr. Michael BellChief of Naval Operations (N61F)

Presentation to the Information Age Metrics Working Group

23 April 2004

the dilemma
The Dilemma

“One of the most consistent patterns in business is the failure of leading companies to stay at the top of their industries when technologies or markets change.”

“Why is it that companies like these invest aggressively – and successfully – in the technologies necessary to retain their current customers but then fail to make certain other technological investments that customers of the future will demand? Undoubtedly, bureaucracy, arrogance, tired executive blood, poor planning, and short-term investment horizons have all played a role. But a more fundamental reason lies at the heart of the paradox: leading companies succumb to one of the most popular, and valuable, management dogmas. They stay close to their customers.”

definitions
Definitions

Performance trajectory – the rate at which the performance of a product has improved, and is expected to improve, over time

Sustaining technologies – tend to maintain a rate of improvement; that is, they give customers something more or better in the attributes they already value

Disruptive technologies – introduce a very different package of attributes from the one mainstream customers historically value, and they often perform far worse along one or two dimensions that are particularly important to those customers. Performance trajectory – the rate at which the performance of a product has improved, and is expected to improve, over time

disruptive technology
Disruptive Technology

The Impact of Sustaining and Disruptive Technological Change

Progress due to

Sustaining technologies

Performance

demanded at the high

end of the market

Product Performance

Performance

demanded at the low

end of the market

Disruptive

technological

innovation

Time

Source: C. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

managing disruptive technology
“Marketing and financial managers, because of their managerial and financial incentives, will rarely support a disruptive technology.”

“Lead customers are reliably accurate when it comes to assessing the potential of sustaining technologies, but they are reliably inaccurate when it comes to assessing the potential of disruptive technologies.”

“Small, hungry organizations are good at placing economical bets, rolling with the punches, and agilely changing product and market strategies in response to feedback from initial forays into the market.”

“In the history of the disk-drive industry, every company that has tried to manage mainstream and disruptive businesses within a single organization failed.”

Managing Disruptive Technology
value networks
Value Networks

“A company’s revenue and cost structures play a critical role in the way it evaluates proposed technological innovations.”

  • Value network – the context within which a firm identifies and responds to customers’ needs, solves problems, procures input, reacts to competitors, and strives for profit
  • “Within a value network, each firm\'s competitive strategy, and particularly its past choice of markets, determines its perceptions of the economic value of new technology.”
sample value network

Portable Personal Computing

Notebook Computers

2.5-inch Disk Drives

Metal-in-Gap Ferrite Heads

Sample Value Network

Word processing and spreadsheet software

Modems, etc.

Zenith

Toshiba

Dell

Light and compact

Rugged

Easy to use

CISC microprocessor

Displays, etc.

Connor

Quantum

Western Digital

Ruggedness

Low power consumption

Low profile

Thin-film disks

AT/SCSI embedded interface, etc.

Cost

Availability in high

unit volumes

Applied Magnetics

skunkworks
Skunkworks

“The strategy of forming small teams into skunk-works projects to isolate them from the stifling demands of mainstream organizations is widely known but poorly understood.”

“Creating a separate organization is necessary only when the disruptive technology has a lower profit margin than the mainstream business and must serve the unique needs of a new set of customers.”

questions
Questions
  • What drives and maintains a rate of capability growth in the technology beyond what is demanded by the market?
  • How does technology cross the “valley of death” between markets (value networks) if there is no market in the gap?
asymmetry
Asymmetry
  • Mobility is upward because development costs must be recovered or justified
  • Attack is from below because that is how the value networks are merged
what s wrong with this picture
What’s Wrong with this Picture?

The Impact of Sustaining and Disruptive Technological Change

Progress due to

Sustaining technologies

No technology,

no market

Performance

demanded at the high

end of the market

Product Performance

Performance

demanded at the low

end of the market

Disruptive

technological

innovation

Disruption at

bottom of market

Time

Source: C. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

improved picture
Improved Picture

The Impact of Sustaining and Disruptive Technological Change

Progress due to

Sustaining technologies

Performance

demanded at the high

end of the market

Product Performance

Performance

demanded at the low

end of the market

Disruptive

technological

innovation

Time

Source: C. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

implications for defense
Implications for Defense
  • What is our (DoD’s or DoN’s) value network?
  • Do we have multiple value networks?
    • Aviation, surface warfare, undersea warfare, expeditionary warfare, special operations…
  • Asymmetry
    • Attack is from below
    • Mobility is upward
    • This could “explain” the blurring we have seen between scales of conflicts
competition vs conflict
Competition vs. Conflict
  • Companies compete to satisfy their customers; the market decides
    • VHS format meets customer needs better than Beta
  • Militaries attack one another; the battlefield decides
    • Improved precision (air) strike is not the same as better air/missile defense
the defense market
The Defense “Market”
  • High end – high-intensity conflict
  • Low end – whatever we are told (generally assumed to be a “lesser included case”)
  • Is this really a single market?
  • In peacetime, our “customers” are internal
    • E.g., the UK Equipment Capability Customer
delivering innovation
Delivering Innovation

Hand-off to institutionalize

Prototype Decision: SJFHQ and its enabling concepts

(Chairman’s Guidance letter, 26 November, 2002)

Future Prototype Decisions

Joint Concept Development Focus, FY03-05

(Joint Chiefs of Staff and Combatant Commanders Approval - Jan 03)

Rapid Decisive Operations (RDO) - featured Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) concept (CJCS Guidance, 17 April, 2000)

capability growth
Capability Growth

“The typical framework of intersecting S-curves… is a conceptualization of sustaining technological changes within a single value network.”

anti disruptive technology
Anti-Disruptive Technology

J. H. Helms, Ford Research Lab.

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