Disadvantages that kill innovations

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Mar 30, 2017

We know that innovation involves a lifecycle, for example the (Gartner) hypecycle. But what variations are there, and how extreme can they be?

In the early stages an innovation is adopted because of its advantages. When disadvantages emerge, they form barriers and obstacles which tend to reduce its attractiveness. If and when the barriers and obstacles are removed or overcome, products based on the innovation can proceed to mainstream adoption. Eventually, at some point, those products become less popular as they are replaced by other developments.

But what happens if the barriers and obstacles are never overcome? What if the innovation is tolerated for a period of time and then disadvantages prevent from being used, for example when they are found to be too dangerous?

This video (4min 15s) by Guy Watson of Riverford, an organic farming company, describes his experience of chemical products in agriculture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjCOHSE3830

See more on this page https://www.riverford.co.uk/nature-not-nasties

These kinds of innovations follow an extreme version of the lifecycle in which the innovation is used for a while, but then are removed from the market, not because better alternatives are found, but because the products are found to be unacceptable.


Let's discuss this type of innovation during #innochat on Twitter at our regular time of 12 noon Eastern time on Thursday March 30th, based on these questions:

  1. How much can we know about the disadvantages of innovations before we adopt them?
  2. How can we learn about the disadvantages of an innovation before we adopt it?
  3. What other examples do you know of other innovations which follow this cycle?
  4. Is this type of innovation, with known disadvantages, acceptable?
  5. How can we avoid developing innovations which will never be acceptable when fully understood?



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