• Julian Watson

SpaceX and disruptive innovation

The success of the SpaceX launch prompted me to think about innovation again. It is a great example of pushing normal boundaries and innovating in an industry that is usually dominated by one or two major players. In this instance the major players are wealthy government-backed programmes.

How then do the likes of Elon Musk set out to push these boundaries? How do they achieve so much?

Looking back at one of his interviews from 2004, it is clear that he has always had an eye on space. He saw the current approaches to space exploration as costly and inhibitive, so decided to disrupt the industry and treat governments as potential customers. He saw an opportunity to make money, but also push beyond the boundaries of what is being achieved. He had the vision and ambition to change the normal..

It is also clear that he set out to disrupt what was already there. He wasn't seeking to achieve breakthrough innovation (as with Tesla), he was trying to make space exploration easier, lower cost and available to more people.

So if you are looking to innovate, then first be clear on how and why. Where is there an opportunity to make everyday, incremental, disruptive or breakthrough improvements?

Be clear on both the vision and commercial opportunities for innovation.

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