A Deliciously Disruptive Scoop

Fighting the tide of technological evolution has been a hot topic within businesses in recent years. I recently read an article, however, that proves even businesses based on the most traditional models can fight back and survive. A small local newspaper in Utah with a largely Mormon readership is bucking the trend of ever depleting print subscribers which is seeing circulation of daily US newspapers falling by tens of thousands every few years. The Deseret News in Salt Lake City has seen its readership grow by 26 percent in the past year in addition to its online market share far exceeding that of local competitors.

The small brand has managed to thrive by applying “disruptive innovation”, i.e seeking out market gaps and exploiting them, gradually moving up the chain of competitors and dominating the market. Decision makers at the paper firstly streamlined their editorial emphasis by specialising in content being neglected by most other news media. They also bolstered their digital focus and filled the void in the market by becoming the most relevant voice in six key areas that were being overlooked. Describing the process this way makes it sound simple, but many businesses find the innovation process challenging- as it requires time, effort, money, and perhaps most difficult, a fundamental change in mind set.

Being ahead of the curve, though, is a strategy that the paper has been prepared to invest heavily in. Recognising the need for innovation as a survival tool in their kit bag, they now have an iPad app to help raise their national profile. Finding themselves in an advantageous position as a result of disruptive innovation, they can start to reap the reward of their efforts by shoring up revenue through online ads and a raised level of paid subscriptions. There is now the opportunity to build a brand and develop a deeper connection with its readers- which in turn will complete the innovation loop.

A mistake that many businesses make is in thinking that innovation is one step in a linear process, when in order to produce continuing success it must be considered as a never-ending story. Challenging, probing and enabling is part of this (sometimes painful) disruptive cycle. When next thinking about innovation, we need to all ask, what will the story be? Will it be one that people want to read?

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