Disruption is a Combinatorial Game

be radical Briefing | January 24th, 2023


Dear Friend,

Join us tomorrow (Wednesday, January 25th) at 1 pm EST for our community-exclusive Disrupt Disruption book pre-launch event! We will discuss the book, how it came about, insights and key learnings from the content, and much more. Register here.

And now, this…

Decode. Disrupt. Transform.

Here is the ugly truth about innovation (one which is well-known but often ignored): The vast majority of innovations these days are not genuine novel discoveries but merely the result of clever recombinations of existing technologies. Laura Spinney recently summarized this insight beautifully in her Big Idea piece “What’s the secret of innovation?” for the UK newspaper The Guardian.

In our sessions, when discussing disruptive innovation, we like to point out that even such revolutionary inventions, such as Apple’s iPhone, are merely a very clever combination and extension of existing (and recently made available) technologies such as touch screens and powerful mobile CPUs. In this context, it is important to remind yourself that no company ever was disrupted by a singular technology.

As much as the Internet is abuzz with news about breakthrough technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the technology itself will not be a threat to your business. What is and will become a potential disruptor are competitors leveraging breakthroughs, like ChatGPT, to combine them with other (often long-existing) technologies and approaches to shift the way your customer’s needs are being fulfilled. In our work, we discuss these ruptures in how you serve your customer’s jobs-to-be-done as a state change.

When scanning the horizon for new, potentially disruptive changes, explore the combinatorial potential of novel technologies instead of narrowly focusing on the properties of the technology itself. (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

👁️‍🗨️ 9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2023 and Beyond Last year was another tumultuous year for business. Organizations will continue to face significant challenges as we start 2023 with a looming economic downturn. Gartner’s HR practice predicts nine trends that organizations will have to confront this year. JaneRead

🎓 Harvard Medical School Joins Boycott of U.S. News Rankings U.S. News has published top university rankings for years, and many students rely on these when deciding where to apply. Now many top-tier universities are boycotting the ranking. MafeRead

🐦 Twitter Is Just the Beginning of the Tech Worker Crackdown Layoffs and shifting demand for workers in the tech sector could have broader implications for a recently empowered segment of the workforce at large. JeffreyRead

🌡️ What’s Up With That: How the Weather Forecaster Knows What It ‘Feels Like’ in Your City Have you ever wondered how the weather apps calculate the “feels like” temperature? FYI: There have been over 100 different systems of measurements PedroRead

🦖 AI’s Jurassic Park moment A thoughtful piece on the potential perils of AI, written by Gary Marcus, author of Rebooting AI. PascalRead

The Thin Wisps of Tomorrow

🍔 Fake meat was supposed to save the world. It became just another fad.

💪 This might come in handy: Summate It summarizes web articles using OpenAI’s tools.

🙀 Google is freaking out about ChatGPT.

🧑‍⚖️ Will copyright be the biggest threat to AI?

📶 Surveillance 2.0: Using a Wi-Fi router to produce 3D images of humans.

💡 When your smart lights become a little too “smart”: The lights have been on at a Massachusetts school for over a year because no one can turn them off.

Internet Finds

A good comic about the future of work in the age of AI. 💼

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: What Doesn’t Change 🎧 Listen to the audio version

🧨 Disrupt Disruption: In our latest episode we spoke with Josep Castellet, Group Head of Innovation at Oberalp Group and learned, among many other things, what innovation teams can learn from the famous Swiss Army knife, why sustaining innovation is underrated, and how to lead innovation teams.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe, Pedro, Vivian, and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)