Why you should do both sustaining and disruptive innovation

You may have heard of sustaining and disruptive innovation. In what way do they differ and why is it important to understand the difference?

A sustaining innovation is something that improves on an earlier innovation. Usually the same business model, the same group of customers and roughly the same features but better.

Examples of a sustaining innovations includes the Intel microprocessors which improves with every new generation but targets basicly the same market in the same way.

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that makes previous products obsolete. It disrupts the market and gives the disruptor a huge advantage often radically affecting the disrupted part.

This could for example be Uber and how it works in any major city for ordering transportation from A to B. By having any car in an app and giving the customer a better experience they distrupt the taxi market and transform the whole business of transporting people. Making it very difficult for a small local taxi company to compete.

As a business you need to work on sustaining innovation and improve things all the time. But you should also spend time on distrupting innovation and think about how you can deliver an experience that is vastly better than what you or any of your competitors do today and would make both your current model, but more important your competitors models obsolete.

How much of your time is spent on distruptive innovation today?