How does disruptive innovation happen?
How does disruptive innovation happen? John Cousins and his 3D Printed Kidney

How does innovation happen? Have you thought about how disruptive technology is changing the processes of innovation? Theory has always considered organisations as at the source of disruptive innovation.

Is this right? How do you think the end user is taking back control of innovation and disrupting their real lives? John Cousins, for example, was able to help his surgeons plan how to treat him by providing them with a 3D-printed model of the kidney. His model comes complete with the kidney stone in the middle.

Recently I have met some fascinating people. I have suddenly been introduced to a world of users that innovate and disrupt. They are saying #wearenotwaiting anymore and they challenge the idea that disruptive innovation happens within organisations.

Is disruptive innovation led by users?

Patient innovation is a website where the end user innovates. Here digital is impacting real lives and combines crowdsourcing, disruptive technology, innovation and a community. How do you think this challenges our traditional NHS processes?

I found the website while having a discussion with an organisation that believes:

” …that anyone who needs a wheelchair should be able to access one that is fully customised to their individual needs”

I am confident they are going to bring to market a 3D printed open-source wheelchair that does just this. Their work aligns with this user-lead disruptive innovation.

The article featured image is Nuno’s Robohand. As the site explains, Ivan Owen was contacted by a carpenter who had lost fingers. He asked for help designing and building a low-cost prosthetic hand. They worked using Skype calls and emails. His experience with prop hands helped with the design. They finally met in South Africa to build the hand prototype. A mother of a boy born without a hand was there. She asked could they develop something for her son.

This became Robohand! This is a 3D-printed thermoplastic set of mechanical fingers that open and close to grasp things based on the motion of the wrist!

Ivan studied the anatomy of crab legs and human fingers to understand basic muscle and tendon structure.

The result is a downloadable open-source simple assembly kit that many could benefit from. How can people innovating with technologies like 3D Printing disrupt disability?

User-led disruptive innovation and academic thought

User-Lead Innovation Paradigm Shift // Eric Von Hippel
User-Lead Innovation Paradigm Shift // Eric Von Hippel

Eric Von Hippel is one of the voices in this debate. His research examines this free innovation. He teaches methods individuals, open communities like Patient Innovation, and organisations can use to drive innovative development processes. He identifies a shift in innovation paradigms.

We know how traditionally manufacturers identify user needs and develop a product that fills the gap. Then they protect their design and profit by commercialising their product. Easy?

But, now are we seeing disruption of this traditional model? The suggestion is that the new innovation paradigm is democratic and user-led. In this situation users innovate and solve their own problems. People are even driven do this at their own expense. Then instead of profiting they release their disruptive innovations for the benefit of others. This is very much the case with both Patient Innovation and #HackOnWheels.

Disruptive innovation communities

I looked and found on Twitter hashtags used by communities sharing their innovations.  #wearenotwaiting is an example.

Alistair Samuelsons’s son George has Type 1 Diabetes. He also has innovated with open source because he felt dissatisfied with  available monitoring solutions. He too was driven by need and that:

“I was sending a seven-year-old to school with a drug that could kill him.”

I feel patients need to be considered experts in their own conditions. For myself I see how it is right that they drive disruptive innovation. They can change their lives and can help many others too.

It is not only these people we should consider, but as users we all have needs. How, for example, do you or your business need to innovate? What is your problem and could a solution be found through innovation with technology? My research will look at how technology disrupts business models. I am looking to talk with innovative businesses and entrepreneurs developing solutions with technology with potential to disrupt, innovate and change lives.

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