By David S. Alberts

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Throughout most of history, most scientific advances were the results of unplanned convergences, naturally occurring as a function of the ability to share information and the interests of independent parties, with serendipity playing a major role (at least as far as timing is concerned). Thus, the march of scientific advances that appears orderly in hindsight is not an organized march at all, but almost a random walk, meandering this way and that through both time and space. ” For example, the creation of the carburetor by the nineteenth-century German engineer Wilhelm Maybach involved the confluence of gasoline and a perfume sprayer.

The first step that can be taken by an organization committed to transformation is to make clear that it understands the difference between incremental and disruptive innovation, to commit to considering disruptive innovation, and to reward those who propose innovative ideas, regardless of whether they all pan out. This affirmation needs to be accompanied by concrete steps that include changes in reward, promotion, training, and related policies that are antithetical to innovation and investments in education and contacts with a variety of organizations.

Existing equipments or processes are improved and/or replaced with new ones that push the existing performance envelope rather than change the criteria by which success is judged. ” Individuals and organizations get better at what they have been doing. Disruptive innovation is completely different. When some people hear the term disruptive innovation, they think of Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen describes disruptive technologies as technologies (that) bring to a market a very different value proposition than had been available previously.

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