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The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change) Paperback – January 5, 2016
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What do 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. In The Innovator's Dilemma, author Clayton M. 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. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The author, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, asks why some well-managed companies that stay on top of new technology and practice quality customer service can still falter. His own research brought a surprising answer to that question. Christensen suggests that by placing too great an emphasis on satisfying customers' current needs, companies fail to adapt or adopt new technology that will meet customers' unstated or future needs, and he argues that such companies will eventually fall behind. Christensen calls this phenomenon "disruptive technology" and demonstrates its effects in industries as diverse as the manufacture of hard-disk drives and mass retailing. He goes on to offer solutions by providing strategies for anticipating changes in markets. This book is another in the publisher's Management of Innovation and Change series. David Rouse --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It could use an update where Tesla both validates some of the hypotheses in the section on electric vehicles, yet is disruptive not by being cheaper but by moving to a market that could appreciate a higher priced vehicle - high performance luxury cars, and now attacks the mainstream market by moving down instead of the conventional moving upmarket. This leads me to think that the book has some key concepts right, but needs to relax some of its self imposed constraints for a full, general description.
Most technological companies drift up-market, improving technology for increasingly high-margin customers. This is sustaining innovation. It can be hard, but if you continue to serve the same market, return on investment is predictable. Sustaining innovation creates vacuum at the low end, and entrants fill it with new technologies, not as capable but better in other ways - simpler, more reliable, suitable in different environments, and typically cheaper up-front. This is disruptive innovation. When a working low-end business model is found, products start to improve until they meet demands of mainstream customers. At this point, being cheaper, or simpler, or more reliable, new technologies win.
The entrants often fail, but the wins can be huge. For sustaining innovation, being the first with new technology is not very important - you can serve the same market with incremental improvements to the previous technological generations for a while. For disruptive innovation, the first companies often take it all. They fly below the radar for a while, polishing the processes, and as soon as product is ready for mainstream, they can win overnight. So with more risk of failure, and more to gain, disruptive innovation might be attractive, statistically.
Sure smart management will invest in disruptive innovation, then? In fact, engineers at big companies often do have prototypes of disruptive technologies done before anybody else, it just must be marketed. But then, CEO has to decide between sure increase of bottom line next year using sustaining innovation, or betting on a project that might fail, and even if it succeeds, bringing very small revenue initially. Even if top management decides to bet, it is middle managers and sales people who determine resource allocation on a daily basis, and they also prefer sure bonus this year to uncertain huge win 5 years from now, so disruptive projects usually don't get much attention. Everybody waits until disruptive technology matures enough to serve existing markets, while new companies at eating into those existing markets. There were big companies that successfully brought disruptive products to market, but it requires constant attention of CEO for months. In a sense, the capabilities that allow big companies to operate in their current established markets are liabilities when trying to find new markets.
The solution suggested in the book is creating independent organizations. It can be a complete new company, or it can be a different office, but that organization must be "independent from normal resource allocation process" of mother company, and be judged on how well it can find and grow new market for the disruptive technology. It also suggests that all plans must be plans for discovery of market ("experts' forecasts will be wrong") and therefore be based about inexpensive experiments into new markets and provide for quick change of course if necessary.
The biggest concern about this book is that despite having charts everywhere, it is still more about intuitions rather than any mathematical models. It does mention that company profits can increase as competitions grab low-end market, and it does mention companies that continue to hold nice high-end market after middle-end is occupied by new technology, so decisions are not obvious. There is also a case study of one possible innovation, electric cars, but it only say that their performance is not suitable for mainstream on all metrics (it was before Tesla made it to 60 in 4 seconds) and is increasing faster than market demands. By that criteria, every company should invest in pretty much any new technology. I would have hoped for a more detailed analysis here, but it could be too much to ask from a book that was first to even bring up the innovators dilemma.
A book that every manager should carefully read.
Don't listen to customer, watch what they actually do with the technology. "Disruptive" is often attributed at smaller, simpler, more convenient, lower price tag.
Its interesting that this book is 10+ years old but year after year companies fall victim to the same mistakes and pitfalls as the ones before them.
I was recommend by a friend and it is a great read will definitely give you a new perspective. Lots of notes in the appendix to back up the data being stated.
It is an essential book for one who is starting own business.
Worth $16 anyway.
I used this book as a reference for my course.
Most recent customer reviews
With the help of many examples from industry (disk-drives being his main workhorse) the author explains what...Read more