Traditional market research methods can lead to days and months of research, and they rely on quantity, not quality. IFR research for disruptive ideas and methods should focus on quality information without getting mired down in unnecessary information. Small focus groups provide more valuable information in this context than broad surveys or the inclusion of dozens of people.

Traditional methods of brainstorming stress quantity, not quality. The method of coming up with so many ideas that one is bound to be good is important only in that it is effective to consider every idea for at least a moment. When generating disruptive ideas, however, it is necessary to consider the quality of the idea. Rapidly discard all those ideas that are essentially just tweaks of what is already out there, as they will not help you strive for enough of a change to address a level-three or higher solution. If the need is only a small change, you are not dealing with a level of problem high enough to warrant using the TSoT framework, and you should simply address the solution in the quickest way possible.

Factors Affecting Current Systems

Looking for tension points in team systems is the most effective way to define a disruptive opportunity. Tension points are areas where things have always been done a certain way and, though it may not be the most effective, it is ignored because it does not cause an immediate visible problem, or the problem has been accepted as a new normal. Traditional management teaches that if it is not broken, do not fix it, because it is a waste of resources––but these are the very areas where disruptive change may be most possible.

Changing conditions in large supersystems makes these tension points easier to identify, as widespread variations uncover the areas where processes and ideas remain rigid, emphasizing system inefficiencies. This leaves wide gaps for disruptive thinking to make opportunities out of the small areas that are ignored. Identifying tension points before they become major problems is an inherent part of IFR formulation, and continued use of disruptive thinking skills can help avoid long-term stagnancy in many areas of a system.

Application of Disruptive Innovation across Broad Supersystems

In the face of wide-sweeping technological innovation in markets and the scramble to keep up in times of economic downturn, many systems are ripe for disruptive changes; your competitors are attempting to apply these theories across different industries and markets all the time. Studying the effects of disruption across supersystems can be an incremental part of making connections on how to apply disruption within your particular system and can show how the skills of disruptive thinking have led to solutions within different industries.

Possibly the biggest obstacle to disruptive innovation and implementing sound IFRs is convincing others that the ideas and new solutions will offer value. Helping others to be comfortable with disruptive change is a key portion of developing disruptive-thinking skills. The process of implementing any type of disruptive change is already fighting against the human quality of being uncomfortable with change and, to go one step further, a truly disruptive solution introduces counterintuitive change.

Traditionally, disruptive change is unwelcomed in established institutions because it is considered ineffective and expensive to implement. Utilizing the skill of disruptive thinking and applying disruptive innovation can open the door for new market creation and an overhaul in the way that information technology is linked to products, services, markets, and economic growth.


Final Note on Disruptive Thinking

An important distinction when looking at disruptive thinking is between sustaining innovations and disruptive innovations. Sustaining innovations refer to incremental changes to a system made continually that are typically linked to existing customer demands and result in a version of a product with added features or refinements. Sustaining innovations are value confined and do not cause market disruption or attempt to redefine value. IFRs for level-three and below solutions will typically be of this type.

In contrast, higher-level problems require more disruptive innovations that appeal to a new segment of customers, creating the opportunity for new value and new markets.

Within TSoT, the theory of disruptive innovation has been expanded to include the team strategy and development of team system models for entire organizations. Each system model will have many solutions that are cascaded and linked in new ways. It is appropriate to have team systems that remains intact for a great deal of time as work is conducted to achieve them. Since flexibility is a concern, however, do not be afraid to propose change at any point in time if its alignment is lost with higher order supersystem value.