Innovation and Disruption based on The Moore Core/Context model

Geoffrey Moore’s Core/Context model is a simple and beneficial model for understanding and creating short-term and long-term business strategies. I like the simplicity as in today’s business world you should work on business strategies more often and plan for just one year ahead (or even less). Planning for more than a year is a waste of time, as I can guarantee you that your business environment will change within a year.

Core/Context model can take almost everything in business (processes, capabilities, systems, data, etc.), and put them in one of the four boxes that the model describes.

The model has two rows and two columns. The first column is standing for the core, which means everything that generates a competitive advantage for your business (usually by creating differentiation). The second column is for context. Context is everything that is not core.

The first row from the top is mission-critical. This row stands for everything that if it stops working, it will stop revenue and impact the business. The second row is for everything that is not mission-critical.

The model suggests a different focus for each cell and flow between them. The bottom left cell focus is innovation. The upper-left cell is focused on deployment for the primary usage. The top-right cell focus is maintenance, and the bottom-right cell focuses on decommissioning. The flow follows the order that I follow to describe the different focus of the cells. You innovate something that can be a differentiator. Once it is mature, you can move it to mission-critical. After a while, competitors do the same, and the core becomes context. But you still need to support the old innovation. In many scenarios the context mission-critical becoming non-mission critical (as more and more context mission-critical solution introduced). When something becomes non-mission critical and context, you want to decommission it and use the free resources to focus on a new core and mission-critical effort.


In this model, it is very clear where innovation should start and what should be the focus of your innovation. As a side note, make sure your innovation efforts are focused on activities or technologies supporting activities in the bottom left cell.

Following this model, being disruptive is skipping the bottom left cell and focusing just on the upper left cell. Disruptive means that you are trying to make a change directly in your mission-critical area. This effort is disrupting both from an internal and external point of view. Internally, such an effort might impact your business in a very negative way. Externally, if you succeed, you disrupt the industry and gain a significant competitive advantage.


Although taking the disruption route is a much more risky approach than choosing the innovation way, this a risk that you must take in the current business environment. The disruption route is a must because your competitors will take this approach as well. Leaving them along doing disruption will cause a devastating impact on your business quickly.

Last but not least, remember that such a change is also required a change in your management system. Disruption can flourish if anyone in your organization thinks disruption and executes disruption. To understand how disruption will impact the business, you need to make sure that you don’t have just doers! You should have thinkers and doers!

3 thoughts on “Innovation and Disruption based on The Moore Core/Context model”

  1. Pingback: Using The Moore Core/Context model for better explaining the difference between Innovation and Disruption. How #disruption is different from #innovation, why you have to do it and what you need to change to support disruption -

  2. Pingback: Do you know what your customers and competitors think your competitive advantage is? – Galaxies

  3. Pingback: The advantages of #NoHierarchy management systems (part 3 – Innovation) – Galaxies

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