Disruptive innovation a boon to some business, a bane to others
Innovation can shake the foundation of established industries and the inability to adapt can blindside businesses.
That was the focus of the first ever Donald School of Business speaker series. Jim Harris, author of the international best-selling Blindsided! and former leader of the Green Party of Canada, spoke about the idea of disruptive innovation.
“We can’t be handcuffed to the history of our company or industry,” said Harris.
He pointed to examples throughout his presentation at the City Centre Stage on Tuesday, such as the innovation of Skype, am internet video phone service, and its telecommunications ability, which has eliminated a large amount of business travel. This disruptive innovation, while helping some businesses bottom line, hurts other industries such as travel and hospitality.
After discussing how businesses and industries have seen their profits fall because of disruptive innovation, Harris then focused on business sustainability.
He used the example of General Motors who weren’t producing fuel efficient cars in the 2000s and when oil prices rose they found themselves in a dire financial situation. They needed to be bailed out by government.
“Sustainability can save your business,” said Harris.
This was the first of what Darcy Mykytyshyn, Donald School of Business Dean, hopes will be a once a college term event with business speakers coming to the school and sharing their knowledge.
“For us it’s about bringing in new ideas and maybe sometimes we’re challenging thoughts, maybe sometimes we’re not,” said Mykytyshyn. “The idea is to expose our business community and our students to what is going on in the world around us.”
Mykytyshyn’s take away from Harris’ talk was the world is changing at a rapid pace and people’s success going forward will be defined, in part, by their ability to determine what is happening around them and adapting.
“That fits with what employers are telling us they want from students,” said Mykytyshyn. “They want students who are critical thinkers, that can participate in team environments, that can jump into a situation, analyze it, and quickly make decisions going forward. So bringing in speakers like Jim gives us an opportunity to engage people in that kind of process.”