How chaos impact competitive advantage?

As I thought more about disruption, innovation, and ideation I came up with the following model based on my previous post:

I already defined Ideate, Innovate and disrupt in the post mentioned above, so let me focus on Initiate and maintenance.

Maintenance is the process of keeping your operation up and running. It includes procedures for linear improvement (such as six sigma), but maintenance missing any activities to create something new.

Initiate referring to the initiating of many projects to try to react instead of responding to external or internal disruption or any macro event that impact your business. Initiating is an impulse activity of shooting projects to try and resolve an issue.

The model place the five activities (Maintain, Initiate, ideate, innovate and disrupt) on 3 scales

  • Order, emergent order, chaos,
  • Low risk, medium risk, high risk


  • Status quo, Improve, competitive advantage

Obviously maintenance is an activity that falls under Order and Low risk, but on the other hand, it maintains the status quo and maintenance won’t create any improvement or competitive advantage.

The process of ideate is responsible for new ideas that will improve your business but won’t create any competitive advantage. On the other hand, ideate won’t increase the chaos in your organization or the risk.

When you start to Innovate, you increase the risk as well as you begin to move more towards chaos. On the other hand, innovation guarantees you more improvement and sometimes you might achieve certain levels of competitive advantage.

Initiate might improve your business, but you’ll pay a toll for playing in the chaos yard, and you’ll increase the risk as well. On the other hand, due to the reactive nature of initiate, you won’t create any competitive advantage.

Disrupt is a chaotic process that increases the risk to the maximum, on the other hand, those activities, when they are successful, will give you a clear competitive advantage and for a long time.

Try to take the tasks that your organization executing and put them on this model. I’m willing to bet that most of the tasks will be fall under Maintenance and Ideate. If your company is dealing with any external threat, you’ll find quite a lot of tasks in the initiate. Innovation and disrupt will have few and usually no tasks.

If you want to keep your business in the current position within your industry or to turn it into a leader of your industry, you need to invest more time in the innovation and much more on disrupting tasks. It’s not simple to play in the high risk and chaos areas, but like anything else it takes time, effort, failure, and experience to know how to minimize the risk will enjoying the fruits that chaos can bring.

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