Scott’s Thoughts: Disruptive Innovation

Young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

“I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.”

Franklin P. Adams (1881 — 1960), American columnist, member of the Algonquin Round Table

Disruptive innovation not only changes the way we do things, but also upsets or destroys old, established markets. Online travel sites made short work of travel agencies in the early 2000s, though just ten years prior, you would have thought nothing of calling up an agent to “quote you a price” on tickets.

Who (or what) will be responsible for the next wave of major innovation in the real estate industry? Will it rest solely on a shift in technology? Will these ideas originate in board rooms or home offices?

Could the next revolution in real estate originate with you? Absolutely.

The forces transforming our lives today didn’t necessarily come from the top-down. In fact, the stories of a couple of guys starting a business in their garage (Apple, Google) or dorm room (Facebook) are well-known examples of how big ideas begin without executive steering committees. (Craigslist began as a humble mailing list and rapidly blossomed into a killer of the newspaper classified ad.)

There’s no reason why you can’t be an engine for innovation that impacts a whole industry. We tend to think of whole companies fostering innovation, but this often isn’t the case. Whole companies can’t be that agile. Small teams drive a lot of bottom-up innovation. Here’s freelance writer Tim Lee discussing the transition in the computing industry from the minicomputer to the microcomputer revolution:

“…companies aren’t big people, and it’s a mistake to think of them that way. In 1983, any given engineer at DEC could have easily quit his job making minicomputers and taken a job at Apple or IBM making microcomputers. But it would have been much harder for DEC as an institution to make that same transition. Turning DEC into a microcomputer company would have required a wrenching, years-long struggle to essentially build a new company from the ground up. Indeed … the few firms that have successfully pulled off such a transition have done it by essentially growing a new company inside the existing one: senior management would start a subsidiary devoted to the disruptive technology and keep it insulated from the parent company’s managerial structure. The hope was that by the time the parent company fell on hard times, the subsidiary would hopefully have grown enough to sustain the overall company’s profitability.”

The upshot is this: You don’t have to wait for permission to drive innovation. You, or a handful of people in your office, could buck tradition and drive change from below. In fact, your livelihood may depend upon it. Don’t underestimate the potential power of your own ideas.

Here’s to your continued success,

Scott Levitt

Scott Levitt
President, Oakley Signs & Graphics

P.S.: More Inspiration Available:
Scott’s Thoughts: 137 Perspectives You Can Use to See Your Business, Your Clients & Yourself in a New Way:

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