Disruptive Innovation in Gypsum

Presented at Global Gypsum Conference 2013 by Bob Bruce PhD

Innovation is an important process in any business over the long-term.

In general there are two types of innovation,

  • sustaining improvement evolution of value and markets, whether transformational or continuous (kaizen)
  • disruptive innovation creates new markets and/or applications
It is this second type of innovation that I would like to address today. Disruptive Innovation will:
  • create a whole new market and value network displacing an earlier technology, and
  • have an unexpected and significant impact on the existing business.
Disruptive innovation is happening all around us every day, and so I thought it might be useful to consider about how it might affect us in the gypsum industry.

Has there been disruptive innovation in gypsum in the past? Thousands of years ago gypsum was first used in building as a structural component using rocks (alabaster) that were both easy to carve into shape and also attractive in appearance. A small innovation perhaps was when people started using gypsum selenite crystals as windows, allowing light to enter but keeping the weather out. Can you imagine the opportunities that opened to the building industry when it was discovered that gypsum could be heated, remixed with water and then shaped into whatever form you like? Gypsum plasters have been used for thousands of years in many ways as a result of this simple discovery. In 1894 Augustine Sackett patented the gypsum board process and now an entire new way of building is underway around the world based on the use of this disruptive innovation.

Sometimes it doesn't happen very quickly. Although gypsum board was invented in the late 19th century, it was really the building boom after the Second World War 50 years later that became the driving force for widespread use of gypsum board.

This document is available as a 6 page report and a 43 page slide presentation.

For more information, please contact us.


Bob GGC 2013

Bob Bruce accepting his presentation award

Insulating Gypsum Board

Insulating Gypsum Board?!

Phone: +1 (905) 690-6161   |   Email: