Chapter 4Innovation Is Not Disruption

There’s only one word that may be buzzier than “innovation,” one that universally strikes fear into the heart of established companies across industries while also being used as the battle cry for the hottest startups in the Valley: disruption. It’s all about disruption these days, isn’t it? At least that’s what everyone would have you believe. Proof of disruption of one kind or another surrounds us; look at healthcare, entertainment, science and technology, news, education, engineering, the environment, social media—nearly everything. But just because disruption’s taking place doesn’t mean that every innovation, system, or idea needs to be “disruptive” in response.

Take duty-free shopping, for example. Anyone who has ever traveled internationally by plane is familiar with the concept. When passengers get through security and head to their gates, they often must go through the mazelike obstacle of duty-free shops, offering a range of products from booze to cologne, makeup to candy. The experience reminds me of staying in a hotel in Las Vegas, with the mandatory walk through on the casino floor, the flashing games pleading to be played, as you head from the entrance in the lobby to the elevators to your room. Duty-free products are exempt from specific national or local taxes and duties, as long as the buyers will be taking them out of the country. If you sit and watch the number of people going in and out of one of these shops, you probably ...

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