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This book clearly deserves more than five stars. It has positively influenced more technology executives than any other book.
The book does a wonderful job of explaining how traditions, bureaucracy, disbelief about the potential of new technologies, and misconceptions about the market hurt companies. Professor Christensen is a Boston Consulting Group alum, as am I, and that firm has been very interested in the question of why dominant firms lose out to new entrants featuring innovative technologies. Professor Christensen has written the best work on this subject that it has been my pleasure to read. Unlike most academics, he is rigorous without being dull or irrelevant to those who must operate businesses. I particularly found his exploration of the differences between a sustaining and a disruptive technology to be very useful. His insights into how accounting and financial concerns can "stall" organizational progress were also valuable.
His cases (especially the hard disk ones) accurately capture many of the classic "stalls" that delay organizational progress. For example, tradition says that everyone focuses on serving the current customers. That's where the bread and butter are. Also, the overhead structure is established to serve those current needs.
Both perspectives no longer serve when a disruptive technology is involved, and he persuasively argues that being first with disruptive technologies is usually very important.
Bureaucracy comes into play because the authorization process requires a lot of confidence by those who will bet their careers that the market and financial projections will be achieved. The bureaucracy also increases the likelihood that an error will be made, or an unnecessary delay will occur.
Disbelief comes from the tendency to misdefine who the customers will be and to underestimate the long-term potential of the technology. Professor Christensen puts in some nice technology development/time charts in to show how to better anticipate a new technology expanding from a lower need-defined market into the mainstream market.
Misconception comes in because people misunderstand the danger of the disruptive technology, and how to manage it. THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA is very hepful here because it provides a model of best practices to cure the misconception stall here.
Three other stalls are often important: Procrastination (delaying when delay is costly); Ugly Ducklings (avoiding what is unattractive, physically or financially); and Communications (not getting the message or not understanding the message). I suspect all 3 play a big role in the cases here, but I could not tell from the way the cases were written. I hope in his future work, Professor Christensen will also tie his thinking into the idea of innovation itself.
I personally favor an 8 step process for improving innovation. One, measure everything you can in an area to understand how the measurements can help you improve. Two, apply the same approach to your most important activities. Be sure to consider how and why noncustomers do not find your offerings appealing. Three, seek out the best practices in other industries in these important activities, and estimate where these best practices will be in five years. Four, assemble a new combination of best practices from these cases that goes beyond what any one company will be doing in five years. Five, imagine the best that anyone will ever be able to do, ever, as the ideal best practice. In the case of disruptive technologies this would involve spotting them well in advance and being able to pursue them without pain to the rest of the organization, and pursuing very rapid adoption that leads to dominating the new marketplace. Six, find ways to approach the ideal best practice. Seventh, put the best people, resources, and incentives together to create great success in exceeding the future best practice and approaching the ideal best practice. Eight, repeat steps one through seven.
Do buy, read, and apply the lessons of THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA. This is pure gold. Also, send Professor Christensen a friendly note to encourage him to do more studies like this one on innovation. He deserves our support.
I also suggest that you set up some skunk works to advance potentially disruptive technologies, as a way to develop more experience in improving your innovative potential. You may also wish to study Cisco's attempt to be technology agnostics, to see what you can learn from their experience as well.
Let innovation reign supreme!
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on 23 September 2010
This book deals with the consequences of disruptive technologies for well established businesses and how these businesses should respond to the innovator's dilemma. The author claims that the same principles that make a company successful will bring the same company to failure when facing innovations from disruptive technologies. An indepth analysis of the reasons why this happens is provided and supported by plenty of facts and data. It is very well researched and written, an essential reading for both the business leaders and managers, and for everyone dealing with technological innovations.
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on 18 February 2015
Its ok, neat condition and received in good condition.
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on 30 June 2014
Professor Christensen's PhD thesis - a seminal work that deserves the praise it has already earned, the follow on book is equally impactful
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on 18 February 2001
There is a strong predictive conclusion to this book, i.e. when developing new products, be careful which customer you listen to, especially if you are working in a category where there is an opportunity for a discontinuous change in technology. That conclusion is worth while, notwithstanding any quibbles on his telling of the history of the hard disc industry. However, further intrigue is added to the naritive by interpreting several other cases in the light of the "which customer to listen to principle", notably the Apple Newton and Discount Retailing. An book with many angles & levels that rewards several readings.
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on 4 September 2008
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 same) and this misleads the listeners into avoiding new, lower quality technologies and disruptive innovations. He gives many cogent examples. It is a sobering piece of reading for any leader of a successful organisation.
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on 28 July 2015
Really enjoyed this book.
A very interesting insite into the world disruptive technologies and how fast paced the technology market is. Some wonderful examples of different industries and an indepth analysis of spesific times when a new technology has started as a low margin, low performance alternative and gradually surpassed market leaders changing industry standards.
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on 10 May 2016
Desperately needs updating: the 2016 printing is actually a 1999 book.
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on 28 February 2016
Very well thought out concepts, although heavily related to the PC disc industry. It is a useful book to have to hand but I feel it should be used in conjunction with other Innovation theories and concepts. On its own it is a little narrow for such a wide subject.
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on 1 September 2013
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 hindsight" and "but how can I really implement this in my business?".
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