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The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail [Hardcover]

Clayton M. Christensen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 1997 Management of Innovation and Change
The Innovator's Dilemma demonstrates why outstanding companies that had their competitive antennae up, listened astutely to customers, and invested aggressively in new technologies still lost their market dominance. Drawing on patterns of innovation in a variety of industries, the author argues that good business practices can, nevertheless, weaken a great firm. He shows how truly important, breakthrough innovations are often initially rejected by customers that cannot currently use them, leading firms to allow their most important innovations to languish. Many companies now face the innovator's dilemma. Keeping close to customers is critical for current success. But long-term growth and profits depend upon a very different managerial formula. This book will help managers see the changes that may be coming their way and will show them how to respond for success. The Management of Innovation and Change Series.

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The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail + Innovator's Solution, Revised and Expanded: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth + The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875845851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875845852
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

In The Innovator's Dilemma, author Clayton M Christensen shows what the Honda Supercub, Intel's 8088 processor, and hydraulic excavators have in common. They are all examples of disruptive technologies that helped to redefine the competitive landscape of their respective markets. These products did not come about as the result of successful companies carrying out sound business practices in established markets. Christensen shows how these and other products cut into the low end of the marketplace and eventually evolved to displace high-end competitors and their reigning technologies.

At the heart of The Innovator's Dilemma is how a successful company with established products keeps from being pushed aside by newer, cheaper products that will, over time, get better and become a serious threat. Christensen writes that even the best-managed companies, in spite of their attention to customers and continual investment in new technology, are susceptible to failure no matter what the industry, be it hard drives or consumer retailing. Succinct and clearly written, The Innovator's Dilemma is an important book that belongs on every manager's bookshelf. --Harry C Edwards


In essence, the dilemma Christensen as critical
today as it was 10 years ago.
-- Businessweek, June 15, 2007

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I began my search for an answer to the puzzle of why the best firms can fail, a friend offered some sage advice. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read about troubles in new markets 20 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
To summarize the book is easy - it presents a simple and coherent view and model to explain why large companies must change tactics when confronted with new technologies. In essence a simple, clear and perhaps self-evident message: Large corporations must work differently in new markets, as opposed to improving the offering to it's existing market. It gives some ideas about why this is so: Internal funding goes to large projects than can afffect this or next years sales, initially small markets will not satisify a large company's need for short term growth, by definition new markets cannot be adequately researched and planned for etc. The big problem I have with the book is unfortunately the factual basis for most theories, Mr. Christensen uses the hard drive industry as prime example, because it happens to have the best data available. I find this similar to the story about the person looking for a lost key below a street light, and when asked how the key was lost answered "It was lost over there in the dark, but it is much easier to look here in the light". The successive generation of smaller and smaller hard drives seem too trivial an example industry for the general theory. Fortunately there are some less researched cases used as examples as well, and they do illustrate the points quite well. Personally I do agree with the author's conclusions - I just don't think that they are academically proven by using the hard disk industry as an example. Just to make it easy - why is it that Intel is still going strong in processors; it seems a pretty similar industry with at least as fast generation shifts? Finally the book is slight overweight for the rather lightweight message, but it is an easy read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This is a book is about successful, well-led companies -often market leaders- that carefully pay attention to what customers need and that invest heavily in new technologies, but still loose their market leadership suddenly. This can happen when disruptive technologies enter the stage. Most technologies improve the performance of existing products in relation to the criteria which existing customers have always used. These technologies are called sustaining technologies. Disruptive technologies do something different. They create an entirely new value proposition. They improve the performance of the product in relation to new performance criteria. Products which are based on disruptive technologies are often smaller, cheaper, simpler, and easier to use. However, the moment they are introduced, they can not at once compete against the traditional products and so they cannot directly reach a big market. Christensen researched how disruptive technologies have developed in the computer disk industry, an extremely rapid evolving industry. He identified six steps in the emergence of disruptive technologies:
1. Disruptive technologies often are invented in traditional large companies. Example: at Seagate Technology, the biggest producer of 5,25 disks, engineers in 1985 designed the first 3,5 disk.
2. The marketing department examines first reactions from important customers to the new technology. Then they notice that existing customers are not very interested and they conclude that not a lot of money can be made with the new product. Example: this is what happened at Seagate. The 3,5 disk's were put upon the shelf.
3. The company keeps on investing in the traditional technology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This recognised classic can be read in many ways.
In one sense, it makes a general point about the introduction of new technologies. It's certainly true that a new technology will often appeal to price- , convenience- or reliability- concious markets, before it performs well enough to enter mainstream applications. The Internet itself is an example of this kind of "disruptive" technology (cf Papow's
Yet the book does more than make this point. It also analyses the effects of the arrival of new technology in several very different markets, and looks at how incumbents and new entrants responded. As one reads these vivid stories, impeccably researched, one can picture marketing departments scrambling, and CEOs evaluating their stock options.
The narration of Honda's entry into the American motorbike market, familiar to any MBA student, is given an added twist, based on the perspectives of the people who did it. It is almost worth buying the book just for that story.
Where it doesn't succeed so well - though it makes a valiant attempt - is in suggesting how companies might respond to the threat of cross-over technologies. This area might be helpfully expanded in future editions.
Nevertheless, a must-read for anyone serious about modern business.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Thought Provoking Book 11 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I work for a small, very high technology that has been in business for 50 years. This book really calls into question some of our strategies for the future. Are we developing disruptive or sustaining technologies? Are we staying too close to our customers in the federal government? I need to reread this book again and discuss its implications with my work team. I recommend it highly. It is very well researched and written.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
Really an excellent book, superb analysis, simple but very pertinent and practical case studies from a very broad variety of industries. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Glen Tuffy
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read but....
Really interesting read, and well-argued, with some good observations on a number of industries. As with all such books, you end up thinking "yeah, easy to see this with... Read more
Published 7 months ago by John Argy
5.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting theories which can be applied
The author makes a number of important points, two of which stood out for me:

1. The distinction between a product being the best it can be and what a customer actually... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
A seminal book on innovation!

Some of the examples are bit dated now, however the concepts still remains very relevant.
Published 9 months ago by Shantanu Kumar
5.0 out of 5 stars stimulating
This book explains the double edged sword of innovation. One the one hand, why large organisations find it hard to tackle the disruptive innovations of new businesses and why... Read more
Published 12 months ago by R. J. de Bulat
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about the innovation
This book exceeded my expectations, mainly for the following reasons:

1. It shows innovation from the different angle, making you realize, how innovation is actually... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by A. Aleksandre
5.0 out of 5 stars Disruptive reading!
This book deals with the consequences of disruptive technologies for well established businesses and how these businesses should respond to the innovator's dilemma. Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by M.I.
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Business Leaders
In this classic work Christensen explains how success can be the enemy of innovation. Executives in successful companies listen to their customers (who typically want more of the... Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2008 by Paul Sloane
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read!
Professor Clayton M. Christensen's excellent book is a classic of strategy literature. The innovator's dilemma is that doing the right things can lead to failure. Read more
Published on 6 July 2005 by Rolf Dobelli
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaping Over the Barriers You Create Against Innovation
This book clearly deserves more than five stars. It has positively influenced more technology executives than any other book. Read more
Published on 31 July 2004 by Donald Mitchell
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