Destroy one thing to create another. This is what we mean when we talk about "creative destruction", the term that economist Joseph Schumpeter used in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in 1942 to explain some of the major economic upheavals of the past centuries: when one sector is made to disappear, another economic activity rises up to take its place. This term also helps us understand the innovation process as value creation (a new offer or a new way of doing things) through destruction – just as emails have replaced posted letters or online bookstores have replaces physical ones, to a large extent.
While the term of “creative destruction” was first formulated by economist Werner Sombart, it’s possible to trace the roots of the concept back to the German philosopher Nietzsche, especially in his idea of “Will to Power”. An innovator becomes a “Superman” through his motivation to rise from the ground, to change the rules. He breaks things apart to create things, and to forge his own identity. His name is Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, or Edouard Michelin and Xavier Niel for the French.
By understanding the economic, managerial and philosophical mechanisms at work in the innovation process, we will be able to reveal the ontological structures of innovators. This way of thinking also allows us to look inwardly and asses our own ability to innovate, our motivations to do so, or the ways in which we spot opportunities.