Disrupt your thinking, transform your business

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Truly innovative companies pay attention to the things that most people ignore and ask questions that no one else thinks to ask. Here’s how you can challenge the status quo.

Plenty of entrepreneurs claim that they are “disrupting” their industry. But, Luke Williams, a professor of innovation at NYU Stern School of Business and author of Disrupt (FT Press, 2010), says most companies deal only in incremental changes that support their current business model — and that’s not enough.

For example, while many business experts often point to Kodak’s downfall as an example of a business that failed because it didn’t innovate, he maintains that every business is a Kodak. “It’s hard to put your hand into a car’s engine when the car is still running, but that’s what disruptive innovation is — changing the way things are done before your business is backed into a corner,” said Williams, who spoke to a crowd of 800 business leaders at the World Innovation Forum in New York City last week.

In order to find the potential turning points that will take an industry in a new direction, leaders must give their employees permission to stop focusing only on what needs to be accomplished by the end of the day or week. They must “force strategic introspection on a regular basis,” Williams says. The goal is to consistently carve out unstructured creative time.

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