Making of a Disruptive Innovator

by Akbar Jaffer
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steve-jobs, innovator Making of a Disruptive Innovator

Making of a Disruptive Innovator

In the previous article, Demystifying Disruption, I outlined disruption in the context of revolution, invention, and innovation.  In the article I also challenged the future innovators to hold themselves to the highest standards and the most conservative definition of innovation. In this article I talk about the Chasm of Disruption and what role you want to play in it. Furthermore, I present some thoughts about what it takes to be a serious disruptive innovator. Making of a Disruptive Innovator.

When it comes to disruption, the focal point is “people.” Steve Jobs paid tribute to what I consider disruptive innovators in his famous Here’s To The Crazy Ones video.


In the seemingly constant state of disruption that we are in today, what is your role? There are fives types of players in the chasm of disruption.

The inventor, the revolution agent. (Steve Wozniak, Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, The Wright Brothers , Alexander Bell , Nikola Tesla.) The innovator – the driver of disruption (Steve Jobs, Mark Andreessen, Elon Musk, Ransom Eli Olds, Benjamin Franklin, and Galileo Galilei.) The promoter of disruption (The industry analyst, commentator.) The consumer of disruption (the early adopter.) The victim of disruption (the postal worker, the coal miner, the switch board operator, the taxi driver.)

So, think about what you want your role to be.


Einstein, innovators, inventors


There are three groups of ingredients found in every serious disruptor and a revolutionary.


What is the one thing that you would do every day without getting paid and you’d still be happy. Find your passion and become really good at it. Passion keeps you energized and keeps you always learning. Passion makes you unique. Passion makes you have Integrity, social responsibility, self-respect, inclusiveness, compassion. Passion also makes you gain varied experiences without bias and hence Keeps your mind open, consequently, keeps you collecting the dots. Keeps you experiencing life without any narrow agenda.


Disruption comes from connecting the dots that are seemingly un-related and that can only happen in the hindsight. Although being data-driven and connecting the dots mean you’re looking at the past, the future doesn’t have data. The future needs a theory. Therefore, you must have the ability to look at the future from the lens of a theory. Creativity also let’s you find extra-ordinary from the ordinary, find new from within the old. It allows you to do things that nobody has yet thought of and create something out of nothing. Also, creativity makes you ask the right questions, difficult questions, and unpopular questions. Almost always you end up challenging the status quo. Example; Why do we need a rear view mirror in a car? None of this is possible without intense creativity.


The road to disruption is paved with rejections and failures. You must have sheer guts to pick yourself up and go back at it again. You must take risks. Take chances. Gamble big. Be bold, be courageous to stand out alone. Not be afraid to lead even when you are not sure. There will be times where you will be beaten down. That should never stop you.

Post-It Example; the Glue that could un-stuck was invented in 1968 by Spencer Silver (the Inventor). It wasn’t until the mid 80’s when 3M finally introduced the Post-It note to the world by Art Fry (the innovator). The idea and the product had failed in the 70’s multiple times.


In a commoditized markets like we have today (where you and 9 other people are selling the same thing) serious disruption is what matters. Disruptors create the real wealth, create jobs, and win the game.

Disruptive innovations tend to be produced by the outsiders and entrepreneurs, rather than existing market-leading companies. There are exceptions such as Apple, Nike, 3M. Disruptive is not a breakthrough innovation that makes good products better. Disruption generally creates new markets with untested products. It transforms a product that historically has been expensive and complicated to use. Disruption makes it simpler and affordable. It democratizes the technology.

So what role will you play in the chasm of disruption? Are you up for becoming a Disruptive Innovator?

This article is second part of a 2-part series. First part, Demystifying Disruption.

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