All Articles Leadership Strategy Why innovation has to be just as destructive as it is productive

Why innovation has to be just as destructive as it is productive

2 min read


SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring Jeff DeGraff, thought leader and executive and innovation expert.

Innovation must both create and destroy value, says Jeff DeGraff, a world-renowned thought leader and executive and innovation expert. He points out that most traditional wisdom and religions have figures who create the world and figures who destroy it, and that Pablo Picasso even called himself the “great destroyer” even though he was responsible for many art movements in the 20th century. “The challenge is, until you make room for something new, there will be no opportunity to do something,” DeGraff says.

He recommends that if you are looking to innovate for yourself or for your company, you have to first determine what you can give up so that you have the capacity for innovation. “So half of the challenge is having the courage, the temerity, the will to actually stop doing something, which is infinitely harder than starting something new,” he says.

DeGraff offers two examples of companies who had to spend time money to stop making existing products in order to make way for new ones. The first is Apple Computer, which he points out had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars during a turbulent financial time in the company to stop producing its beige computers and start producing its colorful iMacs. The second is Microsoft, which owned more than 80% of DOS operating systems around the world, but ditched DOS to make room in the company and the industry for Windows. While both companies ultimately benefited from the destruction before innovation process, DeGraff says that it was risky. “Now almost no company would ever do that. That is [a] very dangerous move,” he says.

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