Management

Effects on disruptive innovation

One of the traits of the era of applied science is that technology continually evolves. There is always a balance to be struck between scientific management's goal of formalizing the details of a process (which increases efficiency within the existing technological context) and the risk of fossilizing one moment's technological state into cultural inertia that stifles disruptive innovation (that is, preventing the next technological context from developing). To give one example, would John Parsons have been able to incubate the earliest development of numerical control if he were a worker in a red-tape-laden organization being told from above that the best way to mill a part had already been perfected, and therefore he had no business experimenting with his own preferred methods? Implementations of scientific management (often if not always) worked within the implicit context of a particular technological moment and thus did not account for the possibility of putting the "continuous" in "continuous improvement process". The notion of a "one best way" failed to add the coda, "[Е within the context of our current environment]"; it treated the context as constant (which it effectively was in a short-term sense) rather than as variable (which it always is in a long-term sense). Later methods such as lean manufacturing corrected this oversight by including ongoing innovation as part of their process and by recognizing the iterative nature of development. A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market nd value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market. In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other's sustaining improvements. Sustaining innovations may be either "discontinuous" (i.e. "transformational" or "revolutionary") or "continuous" (i.e. "evolutionary"). The term "disruptive technology" has been widely used as a synonym of "disruptive innovation", but the latter is now preferred, because market disruption has been found to be a function usually not of technology itself but rather of its changing application. Sustaining innovations are typically innovations in technology, whereas disruptive innovations change entire markets. For example, the automobile was a revolutionary technological innovation, but it was not a disruptive innovation, because early automobiles were expensive luxury items that did not disrupt the market for horse-drawn vehicles. The market for transportation essentially remained intact until the debut of the lower priced Ford Model T in 1908. The mass-produced automobile was a disruptive innovation, because it changed the transportation market. The automobile, by itself, was not.