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Welcome and Introduction to Theory Building

David Sundahl, 1/1/2017

Over the past year or two, Clay and I have been working on a book about the process of building sound, causal theory. In the midst of that effort, Clay realized that there might be a more effective distribution channel for our ideas than a book: this website.

We thought about our own process for collaborating, and realized how much we benefitted from sharing our half-baked ideas with others and getting their feedback and pushback.

Around the same time this was happening, my colleagues were constantly bringing their research to me, asking me to be a sounding board for their application of theory. Sometimes we would run their work through the framework that Clay and I were developing, other times we would go back to the seminal publications on disruptive innovation theory only to realize that those publications didn’t include all of the latest insights that our group had somehow absorbed. These types of meetings became what I looked most forward to the most in my day. They forced us to think about theory and push its limits.

It became clear: we needed to build a place where academics and practitioners could come together to learn, improve, critique, and create theory. Instead of waiting for the publishing cycles of traditional academic journals or media outlets to announce and then rebut a theory, we needed a place where we could all come together in real time. Where people who discover anomalies to theories could share them, and where others could improve the theory to account for the anomaly. We needed a place where practitioners can ask the academic experts how a theory applies to them, and where academics can ask practitioners if the theoretical is at all practical.

The result of our efforts was this website, DisruptiveInnovation.Org. In the language of our theories, our strategy is still emergent. So, we invite you to not only participate in our discussions, but to share your feedback and ideas on how to improve your experience on our site.

Here is the first in a series of posts in our study of theories and theory building.