How Taco Bell Utilizes Business Strategies Developed by Silicon Valley

Taco Bell's hugely successful Doritos Locos Tacos helped reinvent the company and fend off external disruptors in the marketplace. Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic has penned an article that offers a fascinating glimpse into how Taco Bell adopted innovative business strategies originally started in Silicon Valley.

What's the Latest?


Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic has a post up today about the current academic debate over Clayton Christensen's 17-year-old theory of disruptive innovation.

(For those unfamiliar with the concept: Christensen's theory describes how smaller companies peddling seemingly less favorable products upend bigger, more stagnant companies in a competitive marketplace. Thus, the former disrupts the latter. One could argue that Uber disrupts the taxi industry and Airbnb disrupts the hotel industry.)

Madrigal presents the two sides of the debate in a way that's both informative and fair. Then, he decides to explore Christensen's theory, which was developed during the 90's tech boom,  through the lens of a company you may not expect: fast-food giant (and "fourth meal" innovators) Taco Bell.

What's the Big Idea?

Madrigal is amazed to find that Taco Bell's product people speak in the same vernacular as Silicon Valley types:

But what's really absurd about this is how precisely they've aped the language that technical companies use to describe what they've done. They are discussing, in essence, a concept taco. There are mock-ups. For an ingestible food item!

Of course, that all depends on whether you consider the Doritos Locos Taco ingestible.

Madrigal's above quote does refer to the way the Taco Bell folks spoke about the initial plans for the amazingly successful taco made with a Doritos shell. He also notes that the company's food innovation team were able to fend off external disruption by disrupting themselves. Taco Bell actually employs a resident disruptor named Jeff Jenkins whose job is to figure out how to help the company reinvent itself and avoid external disruptors.

Madrigal's article as a whole offers a fascinating glimpse into how the business innovations of Silicon Valley translate across industries.

The below video features Jenkins explaining his work to an interviewer from his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

Keep reading at The Atlantic

Photo credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less