Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

Disruption of an established business model requires companies to disregard the “rules” of the status quo — within limits.

The 21st-century business world is being built on disruption in industry after industry. The old rules simply no longer apply to the industries being challenged: Thanks to Airbnb, for instance, hotels will never be the same; thanks to Amazon, retail will never be the same.

At one level, disruption is nothing new — simply a more modern way of rephrasing economist Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction.” But at another level, something else is happening. Many innovators are not just building a better mousetrap; they ...

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