How Disruptive Technology Can Make You a Winner

How Disruptive Technology Can Make You a Winner

Chess is associated with a love for strategic innovation. When I asked myself what strategic innovation in chess has in common with the thinking used in business and investing, “disruptive innovation” sprang to mind.

Disruptive Innovation in Chess
Grandmasters follow a few simple rules to be as disruptive as possible to their opponent while playing to win:

1. They play in a way that is always active, not passive.
2. They know their end game long before it shows up on the board.
3. They move their strategy forward by using tactics. (This is where pins, forks, and skewers become particularly helpful in gaining a material advantage.)
4. They never rest when the game is in progress, and are always looking for a chink in their opponent’s defense or a combination play that would create a stronger position.
5. Although they may have a clear idea of how the end game should look, they remain flexible, since everything can turn in a single move.

Disruptive Innovation in Business and Investing

In business, a disruptive innovation helps to create a new market and value network. Usually, a disruptive innovation displaces an earlier technology. Here are two startling examples:

• E-mail replaced postal mail because it can be sent from one place to another in milliseconds, without wasting paper or spending money on postage stamps.

• Traditional professionally edited print encyclopedias have been displaced by Wikipedia, the free, non-profit, community-edited online encyclopedia. Former market leader Encyclopedia Britannica ended print production after 244 years in 2012.


You too can become a disruptive technological force. Always be active; know your end game; move your strategy forward by using tactics; never rest; and always remain flexible. As an exercise in strategic thinking today, begin to look for major shifts in technology and then consider what the ancillary implications will be to other industries. Will this new technology put its forerunners out of business, or will it simply refine them? How will it affect jobs, and how can people earn a living from it in the future?

To learn more about this subject, listen to a podcast about disruptive technology at