Thursday, March 29, 2012

Disruptive Innovation

Today at the Empire State Building I learned about disruptive and sustaining innovations. 
Wikipedia can explain better than I...

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and 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"[1] (i.e. "transformational" or "revolutionary") or "continuous" (i.e. "evolutionary").

One of my students (i.e. Jonathan Irwin) explained these two concepts from a business point of view, but then went on to explain the importance of disruptive innovation in our own lives as it relates to our spiritual journeys.  He talked about the Rich Young Ruler who was challenged to move beyond sustaining his life in his riches to entering into disruptive innovation by giving everything he has away.

What is difficult is that while sustaining, the cost seems too great to pursue a disruptive alternative, yet the irony is, in the end, it is this very act of moving into the disruptive that brings an even greater richness into our lives.  We just can't see it from the get go, so we hesitate to act and move and so instead we sustain.  After all, it's the seemingly sensible thing to do.  Yet, if there's anything I've learned in life and from Noah, often times sensibility opposes the very faith action that God is asking of us.

Several of the girls in my small group have and/or are taking steps to move from sustaining into the disruptive.

One gave up her business in Florida and made the move to New York - still uncertain what God has for her here, yet knowing that it is the very thing she needed to do.
Another gal is taking a month off from her crazed work life in the city to spend a month in Costa Rica to simply rest and seek God.
And yet another is moving from the financial safety of her current job to pursue a new position working with kids in Harlem.
And I, well, for now I'll just say that God is up to something... I just haven't figured out exactly what it is yet.

But the question for me, is I'm willing to allow the "disruptive" to evade my life in order for God to bring me to a place of greater richness and significance?

Why does it have to be so scary?  If only health insurance came with the pursuit of the disruptive; I'd be all "in."  But even that can't be used as an excuse, because if God is the one moving me into the "disruptive" I already know he will be faithful in watching out for me along the way.

No comments: