Instaread Summary of The Innovator’s Dilemma When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
The introduction of dramatically new technologies has been a constant theme of human history, in many cases the new things led to the rapid expansion and dominance of one society over another. This is summed up very well in the bit of prose by Hilaire Belloc from the time when the Europeans were engaging in their policy of colonial conquest. “Whatever happens, we have got, The Maxim gun, and they have not.”
Although the consequences are no longer wars of conquest, sudden changes in technology can lead to a death sentence for formerly vibrant and seemingly stable companies and the pace of this change has accelerated.
The book was first published in 1997, yet remains just as relevant today and will no doubt still be so in another two decades. Clayton M. Christensen is a professor at Harvard Business School and uses a series of case studies to illustrate his points of change. The most important point is that customers can generally tell you what they want to change/improve in what they have now but are generally as clueless as you are about any dramatic changes that may be coming unseen over the hill.
This is one of the best summaries that I have read in the Instaread line, it is concise and makes a series of solid points of awareness. While some product lines still remain fairly stable, many are on the verge of being new producted out of existence.
Although it is clear from this summary that Christensen does not tell the reader much about how to meet your existential threats the book does one of the preconditions well. It gives you a very prominent sign that is dangerous to ignore, “Warning, land mines ahead!”
This book was made available for free for review purposes.