Open the business section of a major newspaper or watch “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and you’re likely to find something, someone, or some new tech being called disruptive. The term Disruptive Innovation has become virtually ubiquitous from Wall Street to Silicon Valley…and even Hollywood.

Consequently, it’s also one of the most misunderstood and misapplied terms in the business lexicon. And we would know—our founder, Clayton Christensen, coined the term decades ago as he was constructing the Theory of Disruptive Innovation.

Let’s set the record straight—Disruptive Innovations are not breakthrough technologies that make good products better. Rather, they are simple, affordable innovations that replace expensive, complex systems and products, thereby increasing accessibility and affordability for all.

To determine whether a product or a service is disruptive relative to something else, refer to these six questions, each of which indicates a potential disruption. (Download the high-res PDF here.)


  • Christensen Institute
    Christensen Institute