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Disruptive Changes

I recently joined a rather innovative gym. They don’t have many weight machines or bikes or walking contraptions, instead they have four large, relatively empty rooms. For the use of this empty space, I happily pay around $30 a week.

Conveniently located at the end of my street, the Pure Health club lured me in with a simple sign saying Yoga. They offer an all you can eat range of classes, including Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi and others. Given that they haven’t spent the money on machines I have no intention of using, the weekly fee is more than reasonable.

The concept I noticed was how they simplified the stereotypical gym, accessing a slightly different audience.

This is a process I’ve been paying attention to recently. Ponder Google’s successes: a simpler search, a simpler mail client. The pattern is also being repeated in a number of Web 2.0 companies. Everything from simpler project management to simpler word processors.

By simplifying the offering a different set of values is emphasized, potentially entering a new or larger market. This ends up being close to the central thesis of The Innovator’s Dilemma, a book I’m currently reading. The author makes the case for disruptive changes causing existing companies to fail - new companies access new markets and evolve to take over the original core market. Examples range from disk drives to earth movers.

I’m not sure the gym scenario counts as disruptive, but between the simplification of complex offerings and disruptive changes there exist a realm of possibilities for new companies.

Have you noticed anywhere else undergoing or needing disruptive change?