- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; 1 edition (September 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578518520
- ISBN-13: 978-1578518524
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 142 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth Hardcover – September, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Christensen (The Innovator's Dilemma) analyzes the strategies that allow corporations to successfully grow new businesses and outpace the other players in the marketplace. Christensen's earlier book examined how focusing on profits can destroy even well-run corporations, while this book focuses on companies expanding by being "disruptors" who are able to outpace their entrenched competition. The authors (Christensen is a professor at Harvard Business School and Raynor, a director at Deloitte Research) examine the nine business decisions integral to growth, including product development, organizational structure, financing and key customer base. They cite such companies as IBM, AT&T, Sony, Microsoft and others to illustrate their points. Generally, the writing is clear and specific. For example, in discussing whether a company has the resources necessary for growth, the authors say, "In order to be confident that managers have developed the skills required to succeed at a new assignment, one should examine the sorts of problems they have wrestled with in the past. It is not as important that managers have succeeded with the problem as it is for them to have wrestled with it and developed the skills and intuition for how to meet the challenge successfully the next time around"; they then provide a real-life example of a software company. Similar important strategies give readers insights that they can use in their own workplaces. People looking for quick fixes may find the charts, diagrams and extensive footnotes daunting, but readers familiar with more technical business management tomes will find this one both stimulating and beneficial.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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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.
I strongly recommend this to anyone interested in innovation and to those who like to a better insight of the organisation where they lives in
I loved the airport example about the smart phone...for years we're sold that we need to bring all the office applications onto the berries and PDAs (think Word, Excel, PowerPoint)...your office away from office for all these road warriors. Well it turns out, people don't really care to do office work while on the road. When they have 5-10 minutes to kill at the airport people (when not talking on the phone) like to read the paper, play games, browse through magazines, check sports and stocks online and watch TV. So your competition is not the desktop applications but the newspapers, TV and the entertainment. Voila, need to figure out how to bring that onto the berries/PDA instead of how to cram rich SW apps on the screen.
Another great example was the smoothie cafe. The owners tried all the usual marketing techniques (discounts, different flavors, names) to increase sales to no success. Then they analyzed for a whole week how people use their product. They find out in the morning most people bought a smoothie as a better on-the-go breakfast alternative (coffee was not fulfilling, bananas were messy, doughnuts were less healthy, sandwiches hard to maneuver while driving etc). In the afternoon moms with kids were most of the customers. They bought a smoothie to give a healthier, more fulfilling and cheaper snack to the kids. So the owners adjusted the product to these 2 main uses instead of one universal change across the board.
The book teaches you a new way to look at competition and what you need to innovate against:
Stop looking at your direct competitors to think about innovation (if we had that feature as they did, if we had more widgets, more colors, more sizes...) instead ask yourself if people are not buying this kind of product / service, then what are they doing today to fulfill the need? And so that is your real competition. Sometimes they do nothing in which case you have a virgin territory to explore.
The book warns the change is not easy and in fact is susceptible to lot of push back. There are suggestions and practical examples on how to start implementing this new thinking in the organization.
If anything the book it's a very refreshing look on the strategic planning required to building new products and services. Definitely a great discussion point.