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am 27. April 1998
The Innovator's Dilemma offers a compelling explanation forwhy large and well-respected firms lose their dominant positionswithin a market, following what Christensen styles as 'disruptive innovation'.
Innovation takes two forms: sustaining and disruptive. Competition in oligopolistic markets is manifest in continuous product improvement, or sustaining innovation. This contrasts with a disruptive innovation, which fundamentally changes a product's nature, offering new functionality, although often at the expense of performance.
Typically, when disruptive innovation occurs, incumbents will reject the new technology; where markets do exist for such innovative products, they tend to be small and offer slim margins. Despite this, the book cites evidence of upstart firms with a low cost configuration and lower profit expectations, which have successfully exploited these marginal opportunities.
Refinement of the innovative product to a standard acceptable to traditional customers coupled with additional functionality enables the niche player to compete head on with established firms. They do so by pricing aggressively. Market incumbents typically respond by quickly incorporating the innovative technology into their products, only to find that they are able to make little impact in the developing new market (weak brand name) and cannibalise their existing customer base at lower margins. A new technology standard has been set.
The few firms that have survived a disruptive innovation have embraced the new technology early and recognised the need for a different approach to operation within the market. This demands a different corporate mentality and ultimately, organisational design, which is only possible by establishing a virtually autonomous and sometimes geographically separate subsidiary. Eventually, this may reverse acquire the parent.
The Innovator's Dilemma provides an interesting perspective on a seemingly recurrent problem. It does so in a fashion that is both insightful and easy to read. The main themes in the book are qualified with numerous examples and some rudimentary analysis, whilst avoiding being unduly repetitive.
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am 16. Juli 1998
Starts by turning the idea of "good management" completely on its head. OK - if you can prove it. I'm not sure yet that Christensen has proven his points; I've only read the book twice. But he makes sense. Alot of the roadblocks I've encountered personally in bring innovative practices or technologies into organizations start to make sense in light of Christensen's analysis. Read this book!
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am 24. Juli 1999
Successful companies need to be both innovative, and disciplined in creating profitable results from that innovation. The Innovator's Dilemma nicely spells out what usually happens when an innovative company with good administration runs into an innovative competitor who is new to the industry or this product/service: The company with something to lose from fostering the new innovation will usually protect the old at the expense of the new. Dramatic loss of position will inevitably follow for the company with the admistrative strength to protect profits, if the innovation requires the company to move in a new direction. To better understand the generic problem described here (because it applies to a lot more than just innovation, it also affects any needed change), you should read In Pursuit of Prime or any of the other Adizes books on life cycles of company management issues. The Innovator's Dilemma is a valuable addition to the literature of change management. You should read it if your industry is affected by new technologies that could make what you do today obsolete. Then you will also need to hone your organizational change skills because disbelief, procrastination, miscommunication, misconceptions, tradition, and bureaucracy will become significant hurdles.
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am 9. Juni 1999
This book is enormously useful not only for corporate executives and Boards but also for the small businessman who wants to avoid being swallowed up by "disruptive technologies" which undermine and eliminate established firms and even whole industries. It makes clear why the more established, the more sensitive to best-customer needs an industry or firm becomes, the more it is likely to be toppled by a low-margin, low-quality, low-cost disruptive competitive technology (and the brand new industry that will exploit that new, disruptive technology). Such a new industry will advance on the incumbent in ways VIRTUALLY UNABLE TO BE DETECTED OR COUNTERED without the benefit of Dr. Christensen's analysis. This book and its analysis is a tour de force! Brilliant work! I should think it deserves its place as a classic in the history of business books.
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am 3. September 1999
I am a Marketing Manager at a hard drive company -- my second hard drive company. This book explains EXACTLY why paradigm shifts occur in our business.
The author focuses on the hard drive industry because our products have six-month market life cycles where being one week or $1 behind the competition can be the difference between selling 10-million units or selling next to zero.
Hard drives are the most complicated technology inside a computer. Hard drive companies are run by PHD's and Stanford MBA's. But, in the last year our industry has lost hundreds of millions of dollars. We are on the verge of our next paradigm shift and several companies will be forced out of business in the next few years.
Read this book and understand how our crazy business works. Then apply the lessons in your humdrum everyday industry.
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am 20. September 1999
I work in high-tech marketing, and while not the best in the biz, I do make money for my customers. Normally I toss marketing books after two chapters, as pop business or just nonsense.
I read this one through because it was a modernized, thoughtful analysis of a universal problem: businesses, like people, get in a rut. This writer has carefully described how success is a trap that prevents a company from catching the next innovation. If I were a manufacturer, it would be particularly frightening, but I have also advised customers in retailing to read it.
(Just to be cruel to the "latest information" buffs, please note that much of this was noted by Marcus Aurelius, and more recently by Machiavelli. Readers who are scared of fundamental truths should run for the nearest copy of Wired.)
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am 19. Oktober 1998
Clayton Christensen offers a spellbinding account of how inferior technologies can overwhelm and displace. If you ever wondered about the similarities between sailing ships, steam shovels and disk drives, you must read this book. If you are a productline planner, strategist, venture capitalist, then read this book (unless you are my competitor). Mr Christensen also theorizes upon, as well as chronicles tactics to harness innovation. If any "sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", then any "suffiently disruptive technology is indistinguishable from the mundane", might be a thesis of this work. Another might be "The evils of listening to your customers!"
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am 14. Oktober 1999
Christensen looks at the business trajectories of the disk drive and steel industries from a biological perspective and discovers a kind of universal punctuated equilibrium he calls "disruptive technological change." He convincingly demonstrates how great companies that do everything "right" will stumble if they don't recognize and address the forces of disruptive technological change. While his thesis (that the best business practices will lead to failure) is initially counter-intuitive, Christensen provides a simple frame for explaining how the forces of innovation fundamentally direct the course of industry success and failure.
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am 20. August 1997
This book provides an insightful analysis of growth opportunities provided by technological breakthroughs. It allows the reader to understand how the capacities that led firms to success may also lead to eventual failure. In addition, it explains why firms often fail to pursue new technologies that do not serve their immediate customer base and how that inaction may result in their demise.
The book is lucidly written and provides ample examples to support the hypothesis. It is one of the few business books today that provides new insight into exploiting technological innovation.
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am 17. Juli 1998
Original thinking that helps us understand some of the dynamics of technological progress and explains why the Davids continue to beat the Goliaths. A must for the paranoid (like Andy Grove) who want to survive. The book shows again that traditional best practices in management are good at managing incremental product improvement, but have enormous difficulty in dealing with truly unusual developments. The disruptive technologies are not the Nobel Prize-winning inventions but initially inferior technologies that are easy to overlook.
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