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Seeing What's Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change Hardcover – 21 Sep 2004
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From the Back Cover
When a disruptive innovation is launched, it changes the entire industry and every firm operating within it.
This book argues that it is possible to predict which companies will win and which will lose in a specific situation--and provides a practical framework for doing so.
Most books on innovation--including Christensen's previous two books--approached innovation from the inside-out, showing firms how they can create innovations inside their own companies. This book is written from an "outside-in" perspective, showing how executives, investors, and analysts can assess the impact of a new innovation on the firms they have a vested interest in.
About the Author
Christensen is one of the brightest stars in business right now, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on innovation. He is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in Technology & Operations Management and General Management
Scott D. Anthony is a Partner at Innosight LLC and Erik A. Roth is a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s Boston office.
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According to Christensen, "While the two previous books were aimed at managers [in italics] inside firms who wanted to defend again or attack with a disruption, Seeing What's Next is written for those who watch industries from the [in italics] outside, and who must make important decisions based on what they see. It will help executives, analysts, investors, and others who have a stake in a specific industry to evaluate the impact of innovations, the outcomes of competitive battles, and the moves made by individual firms -- and to make smarter business decisions, forecasts, and stock recommendations based on those evaluations. The goal here [in Seeing What's Next] is to dramatically increase the odds of getting things right in the arena where wrong decisions could be devastating."
The authors carefully organize their material as follows:
In Part I, "How to Use Theory to Analyze," they identify the "signals of change" which indicate where the best opportunities are; explain how to size up competitors; how to identify which strategic choices are of greatest importance; and then explain how nonmarket factors influence innovation.
Then in Part II, "Illustrations of Theory-Based Analysis," they apply various TBA tools when examining the future of education, aviation, semiconductors, healthcare, and telecommunications; using the same tools, they also assess strategies for both corporations and countries. Then in the "Conclusions" section, they step back and recap where they have taken their reader, suggest areas for further investigation, and provide some final thoughts. I especially appreciate the Appendix in which the authors provide a summary of the book's key concepts.
All of the most important points made in this book help us to understand both the opportunities and (yes) the perils of disruptive innovation. They include: disruption is a process, NOT an event; disruption is a relative phenomenon in that what is disruptive to one company may be sustaining to another; different, even radical technology does NOT equal disruptive; disruptive innovations are NOT limited to high-tech markets. Re this last point, the authors carefully explain that disruption can occur in any product or service market and can even help to explain competition among national economies. (Please see Chapter Chapter 9, pages 207-223). Another substantial value-added benefit of this book is derived from the generously annotated "Notes" at the end of each chapter. Together, these sections (all by themselves) are worth far more the cost of this book.
Thus, in a single volume, the authors guide and inform decision-makers in all manner of organizations as they embark on the three-part process by which to (1) identify signals of change, (2) evaluate competitive, head-to-head battles between companies loosely classified as "attackers" and "incumbents" (please see the Glossary), (3) formulate appropriate strategic choices that can influence the outcome of competitive battles, and (4) meanwhile establish and then sustain an effective relationship between innovation and nonmarket forces such as government regulation. Christensen, Anthony, and Roth are to be congratulated for what I consider to be a brilliant achievement. Reluctant as I am to predict anything, I feel certain that Seeing What's Next will become a business book "classic."
The author has a number of case studies of industries from aviation to health care where the author illustrate the power of visionary change in the industry.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
"Seeing What's Next" consists of 2 parts. The first part introduces a couple of techniques to evaluate companies disruptive potential (based on the theory developed in the Innovators Dilemma and the Innovators Solution). The second part uses these tools to analyze six industries: 1) Education, 2) Airlines, 3) Microprocessors, 4) Healthcare, 5) Countries, and 6) Telecom.
The first part consists of 3+1 chapters. The first 3 chapters provide a 3-step evaluation method to see whether a company has the potential to disrupt another company. The steps are: 1) What signs are there that change is possible, 2) How do the summary of the companies look like, 3) What strategic decisions did the company make. The first chapter summarizes the previous 2 books. The second chapter explains how to quickly evaluate a company based on the theory-techniques used in the previous books and the third looks at the decisions that management has made related to the potentially disruptive change. The fourth chapter looks at the influence of government on all of this.
The second part goes over different case studies. How will remote learning disrupt educational institutes. Will airlines be disrupted? What is the future of Intel and other chip makers? What does disruption look like in healthcare? How can we use the theory for deciding national government strategy? And the last case study related to the telecom industry. Now, *that* chapter was most interesting to me as I worked in the telecom industry for about 15 years now. So, I figured that I could say something about the analyzes done. In my opinion, it is quite a mess, the analysis that is (also the industry, but that is a different thing). Technology-wise the authors make a mess by confusing IP with VOIP and missing the history of package-switched systems (e.g. complaining about its reliability, whereas the technology was developed for the purpose of reliability). Also, the author is completely missing the point about how innovation and inventions have been created in the industry. But the worst of all, the authors completely miss out the role of the equipment manufacturers and only focus on the role of the network operators. In my opinion, a big mistake. It is also no surprise that the predictions are mostly false (at least, as far as the last 10 years). In fact, I wouldn't draw the conclusion that the "theory" can help predict disruptive change, but my conclusion would be more than in-depth knowledge is a prerequisite of predicting anything.
That also leads me to something that bothered me the whole book (and also the Innovators Solution), which is the book builds up a "theory" which 'managers' (it seems from authors perspective there are only managers in companies) can use to predict disruption and that way avoid its pitfalls. The problem though... theory must be based on certain assumptions, such as... how do companies work? The authors never clarify their assumptions about the world that forms the basis of their 'theory' so we must figure it out based on their 'theory' and how they describe it. I can't say what these assumptions are, but, especially the assumptions about companies feel very very traditional and extremely manager-focused. They do not match with my experiences at all.
But my favorite part of the book must be how the authors write a whole book about using theory to "See Whats Next." They argue we need to use theory instead of history, because history mostly 'predicts' the past but not the future. Then they end the book with this quote "Indeed, the telecommunications industry has historically seen waves of disruptive innovations that in other contexts might have systematically changes the structure of the industry ... nothing has fundamentally reshaped the industry since the introduction of the telephone". I don't know how to interpret that, but it weakens the whole books premise.
I would not recommend reading this book.
A lot of innovation has happened since the book's release (2004) including iPhones (2007) and YouTube (2005). While the book is a great review on how older companies have failed to innovate, many of his innovating/modern examples are now flailing as well, like Dell.
While it's important to know your history, it's too distracting to have to evaluate and reposition his "modern" examples over and over.
There are many industries that would greatly benefit from understanding and implementing these principles. This is a must read for any trend watcher in any business environment. I would imagine that there are many persons in each industry that are now aware of these theories and are either watching for signs of disruption or are planning and creating disruptions in their respective fields. If I were in a particular business environment, I would want to make sure that I am aware of the trends and positioning my company to be able to respond to them. Seeing What's Next is the perfect book to start that thought process.
People who are new to these ideas should read the other two books first, or read the Innovators Solution if you have only time to read one book. Why? Well Seeing What's next has a subtle assumption that the reader is familiar with the concepts in the other "Innovators" books. That assumption is needed to move the focus from explaining the theory to providing insights into how to apply it.
Seeing What's Next quickly reviews the core theories from the other "Innovators" books and then moves onto specific industry application of these ideas in aviation, higher education, semiconductors, and healthcare. The industry analysis is particularly helpful in seeing the nuances of the theory and its application.
For those looking to disrupt the competition and think about how to avoid disruption, this is the book for you. It should be read by your Product Management, Marketing, IT and Business Strategy groups for different reasons. Product management should use these tools to understand current products in relationship to non-consumers, overshoot customers, and underserved customers. Marketing should read the book to understand the fact that markets have these different customers and incorprate these as part of their ideas on segementation. IT need to read this to understand the role it can plan in bringing technologies and information to products and sevices. Finally business strategy groups need to understand the forces of disruption to either create it or respond to it.
This book is not for the causal business reader. If you are looking to apply these ideas -- then read "Seeing What's Next". If you want to be up on the ideas and concepts, then consider reading Innovators Solution first, then this book.