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The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth Hardcover – November 19, 2013
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Praise for The Innovator’s Solution:
The Financial Times
Fresh thinking aplenty . . . nothing less than a handbook for managers who would rather disrupt than be disrupted.”
Every dilemma demands a solution. And this book lives up to its promise: More than an engrossing read, shot through with Christensen’s rigorous thinking and trademark clarity, it’s a valuable tool for every aspiring upstartwhether you’re inside a billion-dollar company or have a billion-dollar glimmer in your eye.”
The New York Times
If [Christensen’s] first book left business with the quandary of how a middle-aged company can be as creative as the new kid on the block, [this] book is an instructive tutorial on how to rekindle the spark of youth and nurture the fragile flame.”
The Miami Herald
The Innovator’s Solution is an intelligent, perceptive (and frequently counterintuitive) look at innovation, and well worth the time it takes to read and digest it to gain a greater understanding of the complex and profound combination of forces driving business development.”
The Conference Board Review
. . . Required reading for every manager in America.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail
A promising blueprint for innovation.”
About the Author
Michael E. Raynor is a director with Deloitte Services LP. He works with senior executives in the world’s leading corporations across a wide range of industries. He is the author of three critically acclaimed books: The Innovator’s Solution, coauthored with Clayton M. Christensen, The Strategy Paradox, and The Innovator’s Manifesto. Raynor publishes regularly in leading magazines and scholarly journals.
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"Innovator's solution" is supposed to be a continuation of this work, and a bridge between thoughtful questions and useful answers that supposedly can benefit the innovators. Unfortunately, it is not up to this task.
The book still has it's own merits, mostly in summarizing the opposing forces of commoditization and integration from other literature. There is also a useful quip about competing against non-consumption. Unfortunately, this is not the major part of the volume.
Most of the content is dedicated to Christensen preaching the deterministic laws of success in innovation - and this is exactly where he (like too many predecessors) miserably fails.
The real disappointment is that in his "Innovator's Dilemma", Christensen was careful enough to treat innovation as an unknown and unknowable, treading lightly on the processes and circumstances that may inhibit it. He also focused on the logical, down-to-earth explanation of what disruptive innovation can and cannot be. As a result, his "Dilemma" treatise had only one market prediction (on electric car), which (albeit clearly wrong) was predicated with a non-prophecy statement.
As time went on, however, apparently Dr. Christensen felt he is famous enough to move towards less fuzzy statements. In "Innovator's Solution" he makes no less than half a dozen recommendations for innovations ranging from fast foods to RIM, IBM and Ivy League universities. Needless to say, whenever his "advice" can be verified against the test of time (the book was first published in 2003) it consistently stays off the mark.
Well, maybe there is a good reason why Business Professors are rarely good innovators.
If anyone at RIM or IBM would be willing to bet on Christensen's business plans of "digital device for every purpose" or "selling head technology to OEM disk drives manufacturers", the poor fella would soon be out of job. This makes "Innovator's Dilemma" a true sophomore volume - half of it is a sound, logical discourse on innovation, while the other half is filled with questionable statements like "never go to markets that look attractive to an established competitor".
This said, it looks like Dr. Christensen has reached the end of his productive journey in the field of business management, so it's a good time to thank him and move on.
So if you read the original edition, not worth investing in this update. But if you did not read the original then this is definitely worth reading. All of those reviews are still relevant.
As the title suggests, the book is a follow-up on the Innovator's Dilemma, which has been a classic business book on how large established companies are surprised by disruptive technology that eventually causes the downfall of the company. The Innovator's Dilemma explained these dynamics and how they happen even when managers in companies make the most "logical" decisions. The Innovator's Solution dives further into this dynamic and tries to answer the question "what can you do about it?" and especially, "How could you sustainably cause disruptive technology".
The book is wonderful and insightful about the meta-level dynamics between and inside companies. There are probably few books that describe these dynamics so well. The book is admittedly theoretical in the way that the authors present a theory and describe how, according to their theory, you could build companies that constantly create disruption... yet admit that no company in the world has ever done that. It is traditional in the sense that most of the organizational dynamics they describe are assuming fairly traditional and hierarchical organizations... evidence from the focus on the role of the CEO. I guess this is a fair assumption still in 2012 as most organizations still do work that way... but on the other hand there are signs that this is changing. I felt some examples from the book were wrong at times or at least showed that the authors aren't that technical. Especially examples related to software, computers or related to Apple and phones seemed off. This annoyed me at times leading me to put the book down for a while, only to resume again a bit later.
The book contains ten chapters and an epilogue. Roughly the first six chapters talk about market dynamics and how companies react and the last three chapters talk about what you can do within your companies. The epilogue is a summary and suggested "actions" chapter.
In the first part, the authors explain that decisions need to be based on a theory and that they are going to attempt, in the rest of the book, to present a theory for making decisions. This theory ought to help companies make better decisions related to products. The authors go on to show how existing marketing techniques often segment incorrect and they ought to focus on "job to be done" rather than different characteristics (a theme that will repeat itself throughout the book). It then describes two different disruptive technologies: 1) low-end, and 2) new market. Then explains the type of customers and scope to focus on. Chapter 5 and the talk about modularization vs integration felt a bit old-fashioned, and especially not that relevant with the increase of software development in the world. Chapter 6 talked about a wonderful market dynamic related to commodization.
The second part makes things a bit more concrete and talks about what you can do within your organization. First it covers organizational structure, then two different strategy processes and how good companies switch between them. Then it has an interesting look at the financial support behind product development and distinguishes "good money" from "bad money" and suggests to focus on "good money" that is "patient for growth but impatient for profit". I loved the organizational dynamics that it described of how organizations invest in disruptive technologies but then cannibalize them when there is a downturn on their main business. The last chapter focuses on the role of the CEO in companies that are trying to create disruption.
I did like the Innovator's Solution at times and have no regret reading it. Certain snippets of it were very very insightful which makes the whole book worth reading. Yet at times I felt bored with it and sometimes even strongly that certain examples were simplistic. Also the traditional management and traditional organization assumptions it had made me feel uncomfortable. Due to all of that, I decided on three Amazon stars.
The chapters on growth and avoiding commoditization are particularly important in today's environment.
To be sure that some of the concepts are proposed in an academic way and it takes a while to understand what the "more than good enough" and "less than good enough" concepts. Nevertheless, it works and is worth the time to reflect on what these concepts mean to your business and your future.
Disruption is one of the forces in our society and business. It is one that this book explains very well. You do not have to read the first book "dilemma" to understand and get value out of this book, but once you read the "solution", you can gain a greater appreciation of Christensen's earlier works.