If you’ve waited until now to dive into learning more about product development and innovation, you have great timing, especially if you are an entrepreneur.
New research by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes suggests “startups can now begin life with products that are better and cheaper than those of incumbents—and right from the start.”
Did someone say “better and cheaper?” Sign me up! You can just hear the excitement spread throughout the population of consumers.
In their book, Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in an Age of Devastating Innovation, Downes and Nunes label this type of entrepreneurial innovation “big bang disruptors,” and it no longer applies only to the world of high tech. A variety of other industries have felt the big bang.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, or part of a company in which you just think like one, here is a guide to big bang disruption.
4 tips for becoming a big bang disruptor
Downes and Nunes summarize the results of their research in an Entrepreneur article and offer four tips on breaking into the world of disruptive entrepreneurs.
- Skip the incremental product tweaks. Look ahead, and aim for the bleacher seats. Downes and Nunes call seeing where an industry is headed “the inevitable truth.” Aim for that, and with the right timing, your leap will turn out to be the cost-effective one. Hockey fans and innovators alike will recognize the similar wisdom provided by Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
- Timing is everything, so time it just right. We’ve come to the point where “even dramatic improvements in the price and performance of technology can be predictable enough for you to know when it’s the right time to launch a breakthrough product,” according to Downes and Nunes. Too early to market may mean a fast follower can commercialize a better and less expensive version of your product in just a few months; too late to market means lost opportunities and revenue.
- Once you have a model ready, it is time to turn your back on the more typical proprietary, in-house testing in favor of crowdsourced market testing which provides you with a number of early adopters and—most important—the product feedback all innovators need to succeed. Downes and Nunes suggest that “entrepreneurs have discovered that building a company in the open is not only cheaper; it’s also safer.” My blog on Play-i’s team that invented Bo and Yana shines a light on a successful application of this type of crowdsourcing.
- Be ready for success, especially what Downes and Nunes refer to as “catastrophic success.” If you have listened to your early adopters and developed a product that creates value and makes them happy, the word will get out, fast. Remember, “better and cheaper” sells. Once the word does get out, you will need to be ready to produce quickly. As the initial excitement about your product tapers to a hum, you also need to be ready to scale back production. Agility is critical to long-term sustainability.
Downes and Nunes include a fifth pointer which has to do with handling post-launch success: whether to sell to a larger company or hold on until an IPO takes place – a problem innovators are glad to face!
The good news is that innovators who follow the four points that lead to big bang disruption will find their product in the proverbial catbird seat—when the timing is right, of course.