Definition of discontinuous innovation

Discontinuous innovations cause a paradigm shift in science or technology and/or the market structure of an industry. As they are entirely new-to-the world products, made to perform a function for which no product has previously existed, discontinuous innovation requires a good deal of learning for the incumbent organisation and its value network, including the user.

Discontinuous innovations disrupt established routine and may even require a very different set of capabilities and new behaviour patterns. The notion of novelty is relative so a discontinuous innovation for one organisation might be an incremental one for another.

Radical innovation and discontinuous innovation are synonyms. Disruptive innovation used to be a synonym until 1997. Since then the term has been strongly associated with Christensen’s model. Incremental innovation is the opposite of radical innovation. [1] 

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