Disruption theory (2:00 minute YouTube HBR explainer) describes how leading companies serve their customers through product improvements rather than invention.
Keurig’s innovation was capsule coffee and sustains their company with ideas like Brew ID which “recommends recipes with easy step-by-step instructions.”
It’s an innovation dilemma because sustaining innovations makes the money printers go brrr, like at ESPN.
These sustaining innovations fail when the customer Jobs-to-be-done changes.
“We started doing it for free,” Nate Duncan said on Wharton Moneyball in December 2022 about his NBA Strategy Stream show, “with the idea of eventually doing something like this back in the 2016/2017 season. We did it pretty much unpaid – our Patreon subscribers would throw us a few bucks but they weren’t obligated to – and we just built up a lot of reps doing it in the bad old days.”
Think about that. Duncan and his partner Danny Leroux worked “pretty much unpaid” to broadcast NBA games.
But they found an audience. They found an adapting JTBD.
Disruption theory also describes how leading companies can create both sustaining and disruptive innovations. One aspect is a separate P/L. But that takes financial, temporal, and status capital. Within any organization, what executive is going to suggest an unprofitable bet to create something people might want? No way.
But that’s disruption theory.