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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
7


TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 December 2005
Those who have read one or more of Moore's previous books (notably Inside the Tornado, Crossing the Chasm, and Living on the Fault Line) already know what a clear thinker and eloquent writer he is on the subject of high-tech markets, especially in terms of formulating appropriate strategies and tactics at a time when ever-accelerating change is the only constant within those dynamic markets. In Dealing with Darwin, he develops in much greater depth his response to this question: "How do great companies innovate at every phase of their evolution?" He is convinced (as am I) that there is a process of natural selection which determines why some companies prosper and most others do not.
Moore cites the concept of value disciplines which Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema first introduced in their brilliant book, The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market. He then identifies four clusters of innovation zones: Product Leadership, Customer Intimacy, Operational Excellence, and Category Renewal. The challenge for decision-makers in any organization (regardless of its size or nature) is to select innovation zone in which to establish and sustain "break away" separation from its competitive set. Moore suggests that this decision be made in terms of three factors:
1. Core competence: different organizations have different assets to exploit)
2. Competitive analysis: different sets of competitive leave different openings to exploit
3. Category maturity: Different stages of the category-maturity life cycle reward different forms of innovation
Moore acknowledges an "odd pairing" of innovation leadership at the top with innovation "bubbling up from the bottom." Initiatives from both must be in proper alignment. Obviously, it is not easy to establish such an alignment and even more difficult to sustain it. Of course, Moore is well aware of that. "Managing innovation requires executives to foster a bottoms-up stream of innovation opportunities...Managing innovation also implies maintaining a portfolio of strategies because different categories will respond to different types of innovation. This creates a level of complexity that can create confusion in the broader organization, with teams being asked to pursue one form of innovation here and another there."
What to do? In Chapter Four, Moore offers an innovation-types model. It can help ensure consistent and effective execution across the portfolio, and help management "to orient the organization to the logic behind the different choices and the importance of keeping them distinct from one another." I presume to add two requirements of management. First, that it facilitate effective communication, cooperation, and collaboration between and among all teams. Also, that it ensure that separate initiatives are consistent with the primary innovation strategy.
Of special interest to me is what Moore has to say about managing inertia in Part Three (Chapters Nine, Ten, and Eleven). First, he analyzes how Cisco extracts resources from context; next, he examines how Cisco repurposes resources for core; finally, he offers observations and recommendations which can help others manage inertia in their enterprise. Here are two brief excerpts.
Cisco's integration of network-related functions "creates an enormous separation between Cisco's offerings and those of its direct competitors. For while those competitors can and do surpass Cisco in point-product performance, they cannot match the overall value proposition of providing an integrated network fabric. Whenever a competitor steals a march on the company, Cisco's engineers set out to catch up, and once their point products are close to parity, the integration-value proposition overshadows whatever feature distinction may remain." (Page 164).
Cisco knows that being the leader in a platform play has only one requirement: followers. "Specifically, the other major players in the ecosystem must voluntarily embrace your platform. Knowing how much power this confers on another company, why would these companies ever do this? The answer is three-fold:
1. They get enormous productivity gains from leveraging your services.
2. They get access to a much broader marketplace.
3. They do not perceive the power you gain coming at their expense.
"Cisco's plan is to deliver on all three points....[It] seeks to leverage its own location advantage by providing services that are noncore to its major partners." (Page 185)
Cisco offers an excellent illustration of what Moore's definition of "core": A word he uses to describe innovation that creates differentiation. "To succeed with core, you must take your value proposition to such an extreme that competitors either cannot or will not follow. That's what creates the separation you seek."
Of course, few other organizations have the resources available to them that Cisco does. Many (if not most) of them have a risk-reduction mentality that encourages everyone involved to shun bold actions that jeopardize existing assets and relationships. "It is based on staying close to norms, thereby leveraging the experience of the herd. As such, it is actually a positive evolutionary response to situations that do not reward differentiation." In a word, "context."
In my opinion, Dealing with Darwin has much wider relevance and greater value than Moore's earlier works because it addresses issues by no means limited to the dynamics of high technology. Hence the importance of Chapter Eleven. In it, Moore recommends what he characterizes as "essential steps" to setting an agenda:
1. Conduct a core/context analysis of your current business.
2. Conduct a resource-allocation analysis to complement your core/context analysis.
3. Set a more ambitious (i.e. more "aggressive") agenda.
4. Plan out your moves as a team.
5. Focus on time to market.
6. Get the gears moving.
7. Keep the gears moving.
Moore also provides with these seven steps practical suggestions as well as a few appropriate caveats. Darwin's influence remains evident in his concluding remarks. "That's what evolution is all about, a continual raising of the bar. It's how countries raise their standard of living. It's why new companies get formed every year. It's why each of us must learn new skills throughout our careers. We may get tired, but we are not likely to get bored. Mostly we just have to perform. Welcome to the race."
Dealing with Darwin is a brilliant achievement.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2007
Geoffrey Moore has once again managed to write an insightful and convincing book with many original ideas. Similarly as in his earlier books, he builds from the product life-cycle model and in this book the focus is on managing innovations across the life-cycle. The book creates a taxonomy of 14 different types of innovations in different stages of product evolution as well as provides practical advice on how to select appropriate innovations and then execute them efficiently.

The book is based on three simple ideas explained in the first part of the book. Firstly, innovation is not automatically valuable - you need to focus innovation activity to create the differentiation needed for competitive advantage. Secondly, innovation does not become less important as products matures, rather the nature of innovation changes. Finally, there are two main company architectures - complex systems and volume operations - which require distinctly different way to create innovations in organisations.

The remainder of the book focuses on two issues: (1) how to innovate, and (2) how to manage inertia. Different types of innovations are valid depending on how mature your product category is. The ideas here are partly the same as in Moore's earlier books such as Crossing the Chasm and Living on the Fault Line. The second issue on how to mange inertia provides more new ideas - at least for me - on how companies can think about their internal resource allocation and innovation management.

I liked this book very much for several reasons. Compared to earlier books of Geoffrey Moore, Dealing with Darwin provides a relatively holistic view as the framework is suitable to companies with different structures, industries, and product maturity. Moore is not overstating his case by claiming omnipotence of the framework - a typical sin for business books. He e.g. acknowledges that there are other valid ways to look at innovations and there some difficulties in applying the framework such as identifying product maturities. The book is eloquently written, even basic ideas are explained in insightful ways, and there are a lot of examples, especially the case example of Cisco that goes throughout the book. Most importantly of all, the book is very convincing and thought-provoking. Recommended reading for managers.
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on 13 September 2006
In a competitive, capitalist economy, nothing is more prized than the whiz-bang invention, the why-didn't-I-think-of-that product or service that defines a market, delights consumers and gushes profits. Yet for all the ink spilled over innovation, remarkably few businesspeople understand exactly how to mint revolutionary new products. Innovation expert Geoffrey A. Moore delves under the hood of the new economy to create this roadmap to creative thinking. Although the text at times bogs down in jargon and a dizzying degree of detail, he cites plenty of sharp real-world examples, including an inside view of Cisco Systems. We recommend this user's manual to innovation to anyone who thinks that survival is not an end goal, but just a place to get started.
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on 18 September 2008
Geoffrey Moore has followed up his excellent books, Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado with this tour de force. He looks at how companies can use a structured methodology to renewal through innovation. Particularly valuable is his model of the cycle of innovation. Innovation begins with inventions which become mission critical core activities and then move into what he calls context differentiation. Eventually the forces of Darwinism mean that competitors have caught up so we offload the activity and look for new innovations. He gives many examples but he is strongest in high-tech and focuses a little too much on Cisco in my opinion. However, this remains one of the most powerful and stimulating pieces of thinking on innovation.
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on 6 March 2016
I read Crossing the Chasm previously and found it really insightful. Dealing with Darwin is more of a franchise book to keep consumer demand satiated in my view. I didn't think there were any real original insights and it seems rehash of Moore's core ideas supplemented with more recent concepts.

Perhaps if you haven't read any of Moore's books then this book could be of interest and revelation. Otherwise, if you are time constrained, there are more important books to read on the topic of innovation.
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on 15 May 2012
Crossing the Chasm was the technology marketers Bible in the 1990s. Dealing with Darwin deals brilliantly with the 21st Century realities of maturing and rapidly commoditising IT markets. Moore writes in a very engaging style and his invaluable insights are liberally sprinkled with real life examples.
It doesn't matter if you work in a consultancy, a services company, a software vendor or a hardware manufacturer. If you have any asprations to marketing excellence, you need to read this book.
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on 25 September 2012
This book is brilliant for those who enjoy analyzing the process and background of innovation. It is a very interesting and easy read.
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