The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

By: Clayton M. Christensen

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Large firms, celebrated for their enduring successes, occasionally find themselves defeated by upstarts wielding new technologies. It’s not because of lack of foresight or laziness, but ironically, due to their dedication to established practices and customer needs. In "The Innovator's Dilemma", Christensen explores the paradox where doing the "right" thing for immediate business can be the "wrong" thing for the future. Drawing from a myriad of industries, he highlights how disruptive technologies, initially inferior and overlooked, can topple giants.

Ever wondered why top-tier companies, despite vast resources, get displaced by newer entrants? Picture this: a mammoth cruise liner, its path determined by existing clients' needs, versus nimble speedboats, agile and unburdened, focused on overlooked niches. The liner's course is hard to change, even with icebergs ahead. Those speedboats, however, evolve, capitalizing on emergent technologies, and soon they're no longer tiny threats, but formidable contenders.

Now, think of yourself steering one of these vessels. Are you, perhaps, focused on refining processes, deeply ingrained in current successes? Beware, for this might just be your 'dilemma'. Recognizing potential disruptors early on is the key. Instead of dismissing them, consider how they could reshape your industry's landscape.

To harness disruptive technologies, one doesn't need to discard what made them successful. Rather, the art lies in balancing core businesses with exploratory ventures. Ask yourself: "How can I integrate this new technology without jeopardizing my current success?" Begin with side projects, allocate dedicated teams, and as these projects mature, let them shape the organization's future direction.

Disruptive vs. Sustaining Technologies


In Christensen's insightful narrative, he draws a distinct line between disruptive and sustaining technologies. Disruptive technologies,...

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