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Disruption: jump into the arena with the titans or come in under the radar penetrating the flanks?

Disruption is not just a trendy business or economic word since itsbeing featured in studies by Clayton Christensen. It is a tactic, a strategy, a result, a target, mayhem or revolution. It has often been the path from obscurity to dominance, but the retrospective view seems to suggest that it was inevitable, that its time had come and hooray for the ones who ushered it in. Can upsetting the apple cart bring the whole market load of favorite fruits down onto the disruptor in smothering vengeanceif he is not careful in the attack? Or does it behoove the new inventors to weigh their staying power in the ring in contrast to the momentum of the incumbants? How is it done? Optimism alone can't guarantee the victory of revolutionary success nor can merely good technology. Is a market attack on the more vulnerable small contenders who merelyfollow in the wake of legendary titans a safer way toinchinto the frayor is it a waste of time on thesill ofthe window of opportunity?

3 Replies

Glenn McCreedy
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Glenn McCreedy Advisor
Co-founder of Eleven
When going up against the "800-pound gorilla," it is best to be solving a problem that they are not addressing or doing a particularly bad job of addressing. You want to be where they are not. Having a solid competitive advantage, however it manifests and in whatever shape or form, will mitigate the chances of a "Bambi vs. Godzilla" situation.
J. Paul Ogden
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J. Paul Ogden Entrepreneur
Pres. / CEO Echelon Engine LLC, The Internal Combustion Engine - Naturally >>> now Internationally patented
At times when the incumbent gorilla is overconfident and / or preoccupied with market share pursuit and regulation compliance, he may discount any newcomer as far below any threat. However, if the new comer arrives astridea smallercompetitor or with introduction from a regulator, would the gorilla regard the challenger with a lethal attackor aggressive acquisition?

Terrance Boult
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Terrance Boult Entrepreneur
El Pomar Prof of Innovation and Security at U. Colorado at Colorado Springs
I don't consider disruptive innovation a strategy -- if you are lucky its an outcome of a strategy.

Disruptive innovation is not about the competitor, and rarely about the product, its mostly its about the customer. The product is important only in how it serves the customer. Its disruptive because the competition is not serving the same customer you are going after than then after you get those new customers you have become the small or even medium competitor with business market knowledge and an established customer base. It does depend on the competitive advantage you present to that customer.

But if your technology depends on "educating the existing customers why you are better" as your engine seems it would, you have a different problem because your voice is smaller than the gorilla as is your trust factor. When you wake the gorilla you probably won't have enough competitive advantage to shout over them. And the number of over-hyped or scam's claiming better engines that have died before you may give you a hill that is even harder for you to climb. I've worked with a few companies with novel engine designs and its a very hard market to convince customers -- there are a multitude of less obvious dimension that matter the the engine customer, from reliability to distribution, to maintenance, to ability to produce in volume, which are often less obvious to the end user.

History shows most gorilla's don't acquire unless you have already established enough of a following with real customers -- they crush companies with ideas but without customers.
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