What is Disruptive innovation? Is it scary?

What really has struck a cord with me is hearing the word “disruptive” brings to mind something troublesome, unruly, disorderly and then attaching “innovation” which sparks new ideas, creation and rebirth sounds like a weird connection.  Putting the two words together is best described by “as an innovation that creates a new market and value network displacing previous market leaders”. How is that possible?

The example in the video below about spotting disruptive innovation in a corporate setting was very interesting in reference to the gaming systems.  I have two gaming sons and I tried to keep up learning each gaming system and played some games with the boys.  I even played Pokemon when it first came out!   Whenever I tried to explain the different gaming systems to friends that had no idea what they should purchase for their children, I would always say the wii has the family friendly version that allows for everyone to play and be interactive but if you are a true gamer looking for the best graphics you would want to purchase an XBox or Playstation systems.  As an adult that didn’t grow up with gaming systems other than the old school Atari, having to press A/B, YX, and the up down sticks was much too challenging.  Who can’t handle the wii remote to “swing a bat” versus the very cumbersome method using the Playstation remote? I never really thought about how that little remote was a disruptive innovation that brought more gaming systems into homes that might not have had those systems. What an excellent example of change and growth using a simple idea to answer a consumer’s needs.

How to Spot Disruptive Innovation

I love the examples and videos in our book, Blended; Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools.  This book was exciting to read because it supports what I’ve been doing for years as a homeschooler, allowing my children to learn at their pace, pushing them to learn through their own learning environments and allowing access to every tool to enrich their learning environment since we didn’t have school budgets to support that learning.  I’m only part way through the book and I wish I had unlimited time to watch every single video example of the use of “disruptive innovation” within schools, or blended learning.  The examples used in the book have been great visuals that put this whole idea of disruptive innovation into perspective both within education and beyond.

So Disruptive Innovation isn’t about causing “trouble” in the education field but finding easier, cheaper ways of allowing students to have a handle on their own learning experiences.  So why would you want to put a child that is very hands on learning into a “factory” setting education that requires that they sit attentively at their desk and “take tests”, read their textbook or fill out worksheets all day?

I think the biggest challenge will be to bring the changes needed into our education system.  Just last night I read that  there are over 2.04 million students being homeschooled and 310,000 students enrolled in full-time virtual schools.  If you don’t think the government is going to take notice and start enforcing new regulations and restrictions, perhaps you live in Utopia.  So I look forward to learning and applying my class project of disrupting the ways things have been done to bring back the passion of learning to our students and allowing them to have more control in their own education.



Brian D. Ray, “2.04 Million Homeschool Students in the United States in 2010,” National Home Education Research Institute, January 3, 2011 (http://www.nheri.org/Homschoolpopulationreport2010.pdf)


Harvard Business Review (2008, October 20). How to Spot Disruptive Innovation Opportunities.  Retrieved from  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGzXWO_anLI.

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2014). Blended: Using disruptive innovation to improve schools. John Wiley & Sons.


One thought on “What is Disruptive innovation? Is it scary?

  1. Hi Cindy,

    Excellent take on the book “Blended.” I enjoyed it so much. Those statistics about home school and virtual schools are astounding. I agree I didn’t like the term “disruptive innovation” very much until I actually learned what it meant. As we get deeper into this Master’s program, it has opened my eyes to how truly behind our public education system is. In a way, I hope you are right that the government wakes up and starts to take notice. I hope, though, that it doesn’t slap more rules and regulations down. My guess is that it will, and we will end up in more of a mess than we already are.


    Liked by 1 person

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