Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reflections: The Innovator's Dilemma

I've written before I'm not a big fan of many business books because many authors "intentionally or unintentionally, [attempt] to make [their] book some kind of new scriptural canon, demanding of our attention year after year."  The Innovator's Dilemma is a different book altogether; it's MBA territory and not meant for readers who enjoy a quick but mostly superficial exploration at self-help techniques.  Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma is a challenging and enlightening book, which purports to break new ground in the understanding of business and technology but also explores existing principles beneficial to all and not only the entrepreneur or senior manager. 

My awareness of The Innovator's Dilemma came while reading the excellent biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  Isaacson wrote: ". . . Christensen was one of the world's most insightful business analysts, and Jobs was deeply influenced by his book The Innovator's Dilemma."  I figured I should pay attention to this book so highly regarded by one of the most influential business leaders in recent memory.  Christensen's book attempts to document and explain how disruptive technology differs from sustaining technologies within industries—all detailed and defined, of course—and how entire industries have been significantly changed and how seemingly successful companies have folded or been greatly reduced in capability and reach due to disruptive changes.  That all sounds a bit esoteric, and in some ways it is without modest knowledge of businesses and organizations, but I found the information very interesting and useful.

Amazingly, I didn't find The Innovator's Dilemma to be redundant, as many business  books are.  It seemed that any time the book started to become too repetitious it would pivot to a new theory or model to continue explaining the phenomenon of disruptive technologies.  Although I was able to follow with a modicum of confidence the main ideas and principles, I certainly had to slow down a few times, re-read a few sentences, and ponder over a few graphs for a bit longer than usual to truly understand what was being presented and discussed.  In some cases, I'm still pondering.  As mentioned previously, this is not an easy read.  It will push you to dig deeper into seemingly straightforward business cases and consistently use your critical thinking skills.

Clayton Christensen offers something truly valuable and insightful with his book The Innovator's Dilemma.  I don't expect to create any disruptive technologies or necessarily be in a senior management situation having to make organizational decisions to deal with one, but I feel much more educated regarding business, organizations, and the constant change that is pervasive through most industries.

On a side note, Clayton Christensen's TED talk, How Will You Measure Your Life?, is well worth listening to and provides an impetus to reflect and examine your life and ambitions. 

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: Steve Jobs
Reflections: Too Big to Know
Reflections: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

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