Form to the “Persons”: Christensen and the Innovator’s Dilemma

innovator's dilemma

Hey kings, queens, and royalty. How goes it?

Well, I decided late in this yearly quarter we colloquially call summer, that I would make sense to get out some superficial thoughts about what I’ve been doing all this time. Why not? It’ll give you a bit of a peek into my world, and give me a bit of practice expressing what I’m truly interested in. So, here’s a short post about one of the more favorite books I’ve read rough this period on design; called the The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Many research books in the discipline of business I’ve run into have, to be quite honest, felt a bit light, in theory, substantiation, and page count. I’m still investigating why this might be that case, but this book here has nowhere near any of these problems. Christensen has made a cogent case for the reasons behind Corporations, to quote Marx out of context, to provide “the seeds of its own destruction.” The main points of Christensen basically state that good management practices create the seeds of said corporation’s failure. When large corporations of a particular flavor are faced with disruptive companies who develop ‘less advanced’ technologies for a ready market, many times the failure is due to the very practices they espouse.

Though it isn’t nearly enough to explain the whole shebang, Five main points of the book are listed below:

companies depend of customers/investors for resources, and their value/capabilities is developed as such:

1) Companies depend of customers/investors for resources, and their value/capabilities is developed as such,

2) Small markets dont solve the growth needs of large companies,

3) Markets that don’t exist cannot be analyzed,

4) An organization’s capabilities define its disabilities, and

5) Tech supply may not equal market demand.

The book goes through copious case study reflection, using mixed method analysis: from interviews with high-level CEOs, from data collection and analysis from a comparison of many market and technology curves over time, to a developed and meticulous theory which readily explain his case. What’s more, the writing deftly walks the line between nuance and understanding; it understands its many particular theories must be stated a particular way for description’s sake, but does so while aiming to keep it understandable.

What I also appreciate is the acknowledgement of the multinational corporation as a dynamic and powerful phenomenon. In our community which lauds the sovereign progress of technology as a uncontrollable animal, the idea of the ‘disruptive technology’ is a phenomenon which has impacted the world for decades, even centuries. Just as technology seems uncontrollable, in the past few years super-large corporations have seemed alike; without appreciable governmental or economic restraint, to the rest of the world, these machines seemed monolithic, amorphous, and ubiquitous. This book gives some companies form, movement, a theory based upon its structure, and most importantly, a recipe for frailty.

This post isn’t an absolution or incrimination; the world of large corporations is more complex than meets the eye. However, it does appreciate that the book speaks toward certain realities; humans, which are inherently flawed and imperfect, create flawed and imperfect systems. For corporatists, it gives opportunities to learn from. For detractors, it gives hope.

However, there is one particular thing which rubs me the wrong way; the tacit existence of technology progression and its power over corporations. As a trained engineer, yet an aware citizen, I aim to push the idea that technology does not act upon its own. Though many tangible types act upon the laws of physics, they are developed by humans and used by humans, and fully capable of intensifying implicit and explicit needs we want it to. The trite example is the opportunity for nuclear energy turning into a nuclear bomb, but more subtle and seditious examples exist. This is just a hope: by working to know all the implications of using technologies, we can work to intensify the good outcomes, and mitigate the bad.

I aim to find such books which aim to define technology innovation in such a way that Christensen’s book has defined disruption for large corporations. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

What do you think? Comments, questions, thoughts? Leave them below!

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