What is reinvention?

Leaders often ask me what is the difference between innovation, reinvention and disruption?

Sometimes you just need a good analogy to explain a concept.

Lets imagine that you have just purchased a new home.

You have 4 options:

1. No nothing and live in the house as it is
This is still an option for many brand and business leaders but not one that is sustainable.

2. Give the house a new paint job.

In this analogy, this course of action is incremental innovation which is the most popular form of innovation used by most organisations.

You are continuously trying to improve an existing product, service or business.

3. Put in a new kitchen or bathroom (or both).

This is reinvention.

You take what works at the moment (i.e. the house structure, size, shape, rooms etc) but you make a major transformation.

With reinvention you delete, change or significantly upgrade what id not working or you change something around to offer something completely new.

McDonald’s for example when they offered breakfast used their existing locations but changed their opening hours, ingredients and menu’s.

They kept the basic blueprint but reinvented a part of their business to create something new.

4. The last option is to completely demolish the house and start from a blank piece of paper.

This is disruption.

It’s why startups can do this but most established businesses find it so difficult (there are some exceptions of course e.g. Apple).

The benefits of reinvention

To keep this analogy going there are many benefits of reinvention (option 3).

These include:

– Less cost (than disruption)

– Less Risk

Leverage the key strengths of a building (i.e. or brand or business)

– Less change to employees, consumer and partners than disruption

– Can be faster than disruption

– And more impact than incremental innovation.

Ultimately the decision of which of these 4 options is a leadership one which might depend on the market-place, timing, budget and risk profile.

These options of course are not mutually exclusive.

You can start by giving the house a new coat of paint then change the bathroom then add a new floor (i.e. incremental innovation, reinvention and disruption).

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