Incremental and Disruptive Innovation
Here's the point - there's potential in any business to produce new products and services in line with your core business models, or to tweak the business models where your firm already participates. In many cases this innovation will be "incremental" - it will be copied. The first innovator is the leader of the pack, and many firms will work hard to catch up. A good example of this phenomena is new touch screen phone from Verizon, which looks strikingly like the iPhone from Apple. Now that the market is catching up to the base iPhone, what will Apple's response be?
What Grove is pointing out, however, is that while real disruptive innovation and change can become very difficult for larger firms, since these firms have so many products and so many competitors in their "home" markets, disruptive innovation in other markets or segments may be actually more beneficial and easier to accomplish. Wal-Mart has stores in many small cities and towns across the US. What would happen if you could acquire health services and your pharmaceuticals in Wal-Marts - or even if the doctors and nurses were Wal-Mart employees? Wal-Mart has a long standing and well deserved reputation for keeping costs low. It's ubiquitous stores provide easy access to many people and great convenience. Wal-Mart could significantly disrupt the delivery of non-emergency healthcare if it so chose.
GE, with its investments and knowledge in power generation and engine technology, has several real rationales for entering the market for electronic vehicles. First, it stands to benefit from the use of more electricity generation and distribution, and second, it has knowledge of engine technology. GE, if it chose to enter the market for electronic automobiles, could create quite a difference in that market.
The point being that many firms have capabilities, insights and technologies that would allow them to enter and disrupt other markets if they were to combine those skills and choose to attack. These moves will create disruptive change, since the moves will upset the standing order. When your organization decides to innovate, it should consider the possibilities within its own products and markets, and those opportunities to leverage internal capabilities to disrupt a different market segment as well.