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4 Examples of Discontinuous Change

Discontinuous change is a dramatic change that occurs in a relatively short period of time such that the status quo is suddenly discontinued. The following are common examples.

Continuous Change

The term discontinuous change can be adopted by an organization as a rejection of old management methodologies and mantras such as continuous change and continuous improvement. These approaches can feel like an excuse to work slowly, preserve the status quo and avoid healthy risk taking. Continuous improvement is also associated with known patterns of organizational failure such as marketing myopia whereby a firm continues to optimize current products without ever adapting to the bigger picture such as competition from a new class of products or changing consumer needs.


Chaos is the ability of a small element of a system to change the entire future of that system. For example, a teenager working on software in their basement who produces a peer-to-peer search engine that eventually displaces large technology companies and changes the future of the internet.

Research & Development

As a large organization, pursuit of discontinuous change involves research & development and related strategies such as acquiring relatively small innovative firms. A similar strategy is also employed to try to prevent discontinuous change by acquiring small firms you see as a threat.


Discontinuous change calls for reinvention over improvement. For example, replacing your sales system every few years as opposed to sustaining and improving it over many decades. As with any dramatic business mantra this can go too far. There is surely a time for reinvention and a time for improvement.
Overview: Discontinuous Change
A dramatic change that occurs in a relatively short period of time such that the status quo is suddenly discontinued.
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Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about change.
Accelerating Change
Business Change
Change Agent
Change Control
Change Examples
Change Fatigue
Change Impact
Change Principles
Discontinuous Change
Impact Analysis
Industrial Revolution
Paradigm Shift
Status Quo
Temporary Change
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The common types of change.

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A vocabulary for describing change.

Change Management Examples

An overview of change management with examples.


The definition of stability with examples.


The definition of intentions with examples.

Temporary Change

An overview of temporary change with examples.

Physical Change

An overview of physical change with examples.

Chemical Change

An overview of chemical change with examples.

Business Change

A list of common business changes.

Organizational Change Examples

An overview of organizational change with examples.

Change Management Process

A list of steps for change management.

Change Principles

The first principles of change.

Change Planning

An overview of the change planning process with examples.


The definition of progress with examples.

Change Opposite

A list of opposites of change.

Physical Environment

An overview of the physical environment with examples.

Human Development

An overview of human development with examples.

Change Examples

An overview of change with examples.


An overview of improvement with examples.

Emergent Change

A comparison of emergent and planned change.
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