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Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation 2nd Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875847405
ISBN-10: 0875847404
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the most valuable book I've read in years."--Tom Peters -- z

About the Author

Since 1984, Harvard Business School Press has been dedicated to publishing the most contemporary management thinking, written by authors and practitioners who are leading the way. Whether readers are seeking big-picture strategic thinking or tactical problem solving, advice in managing global corporations or for developing personal careers, HBS Press helps fuel the fire of innovative thought. HBS Press has earned a reputation as the springboard of thought for both established and emerging business leaders.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 2nd edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875847404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875847405
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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James Utterback has achieved the difficult goal of taking careful scholarship, drawing useful conclusions and presenting the whole package in a highly enjoyable book. He makes a major contribution by distinguishing between product innovation and process innovation and shows how and why the former is likely to come from outside the established industry players, while the latter is more likely to come from inside.
In the process he reaches back into history and covers industries ranging from pond ice to memory chips. Combining his explanation with concepts with Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" provides a powerful means of understanding where innovation comes from and what the barriers are to its success. Utterback's book goes beyond that. It also calls into serious question the idea (posited by Moore and others) that today's "high tech" cycle of innovation is fundamentally different from earlier innovative cycles in other industries. All in all, Utterback uses industrial history in a low-key, fact-based book that shines a clear, bright light on what drove yesterday's technology developments -- and today's.
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This is a fascinating and chilling account of technological innovation. It belongs on the recommended list of technology managers and staff alike. Utterback marshals compelling case histories that provide the objective foundations for more popular accounts of technology formation such as Geoffrey Moore's CROSSING THE CHASM (1). We gain insight into why it's so crowded at the bottom. Reasons exist in abundance why firms that epresent established technology are the least likely to perceive the threat represented by radical innovation. It is a slight exaggeration to say Utterback makes current management sound like the last Czar of Russia praising the happiness of the serfs. Yes, perhaps the serfs were happy; but the Bolsheviks weren't. In short, the technological discontinuity is not going to come from established competitors. All the electric typewriter manufacturer's were "taken down" by the Word Processor. But how then to recognize the radical innovation? The key to Utterback's argument is the idea of a "dominant design" of a technology It forms the center of a network of system features, user habits, collateral assets such as brand image, market channel and customer switching costs. By definition, the dominant design wins the market. It is the pattern to which both competitors and incremental innovators must adhere to if they aim at significant following in the current market. It is what radical innovation over-throws. Many case histories are provided. Each of the chapters illuminates an aspect of the dynamics of innovation by drilling down into a specific example. Thomas Edison came late to the race to produce a commercial electric lamp. He succeeded through ingenuity and systematic thinking.Read more ›
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Utterback explains "how companies can seize opportunities in the face of technological change." There are dozens (hundreds?) of other books on the same subject, notably those written by Geoffrey A. Moore. I rate this book so highly because it is exceptionally well-organized and well-written, because it examines several offbeat subjects (eg the development of the typewriter and the evolution of the typewriter industry, the development of the incandescent electric light), and because Utterback focuses so intensely -- and so effectively -- on real-world situations in which the "dynamics of innovation" are manifest. This book is very informative but also great fun to read. (Those who enjoy it as much as I did are urged to read both The History of Invention and The Lever of Riches.) Chapter 4 revisits the the dynamics of the innovation model (Figure 1-1) and then in Chapter 5, Utterback shifts his attention to developments within the plate glass manufacturing industry. In Chapter 6, he examines the innovation differences between assembled and nonassembled products. Subsequent chapters sustain the discussion of "the power of innovation in the creation of an industry" and then, in Chapter 9, Utterback "draws together some of the lessons of earlier chapters and academic research to consider the relationship between the behaviors and strategies of firms with respect to technological innovation and long-term survival." He concludes his book (in Chapter 10) by addressing "the perennial management issue of how corporations can renew their technology, products, and processes as a basis for continued competitive vitality." It is obvious to all of us that even the strongest product and business strategy will eventually be overturned by technological change. Ours is an age in which change is the only constant.Read more ›
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Prof. Utterback spent over twenty years studying 20+ industries as they experienced dramatical technological change, trying to understand who were the market leaders before the change, who were the market leaders afterwards, and why?
He studies markets as varied as cooling (the harvested ice industry in the late 1800s), lighting (gas lighting giving way to incandescent lighting giving way to flourescent lighting), typewriters (manual typewrites giving way to electrics giving way to dedicated word processors giving way to PCs), and plate glass.
He observes that the market leaders prior to a technology change rarely are market leaders after the change, primarily because the entrepenuers and innovators are squeezed out of older companies by "incrementalists". This gave me a lot of encouragement and insight into pushing hard on Internet Explorer back in 1994..1996 at Microsoft, and also I think explains why Microsoft is struggling now.
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