Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen discusses the counter-intuitive thesis that firms with good management practices and a sound understanding of their customers need, eventually fail at disruptive innovations while they may still be succeeding at sustainable innovations.


My Favorite 15 Quotes From the Innovator’s Dilemma

1. “Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.” 

― Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

2. “To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training, and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building, and preparing the right organization for the job as well.” 

― Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

3. “First, disruptive products are simpler and cheaper; they generally promise lower margins, not greater profits. Second, disruptive technologies typically are first commercialized in emerging or insignificant markets. And third, leading firms’ most profitable customers generally don’t want, and indeed initially can’t use, products based on disruptive technologies.” 

― Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

4. “When commercializing disruptive technologies, they found or developed new markets that valued the attributes of the disruptive products, rather than search for a technological breakthrough so that the disruptive product could compete as a sustaining technology in mainstream markets.” 


5. “The techniques that worked so extraordinarily well when applied to sustaining technologies, however, clearly failed badly when applied to markets or applications that did not yet exist.” 

6. “This is one of the innovator’s dilemmas: Blindly following the maxim that good managers should keep close to their customers can sometimes be a fatal mistake.” 

7. “With few exceptions, the only instances in which mainstream firms have successfully established a timely position in a disruptive technology were those in which the firms’ managers set up an autonomous organization charged with building a new and independent business around the disruptive technology.” 

8. “Disruptive technologies bring to a market a very different value proposition than had been available previously. Generally, disruptive technologies underperform established products in mainstream markets. But they have other features that a few fringe (and generally new) customers value. Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use. There” 

9. “Watching how customers actually use a product provides much more reliable information than can be gleaned from a verbal interview or a focus group.” 

10. “Sound managerial decisions are at the very root of their impending fall from industry leadership.” 

11. “They must be plans for learning rather than plans for implementation.” 


12. “In the instances studied in this book, established firms confronted with disruptive technology typically viewed their primary development challenge as a technological one: to improve the disruptive technology enough that it suits known markets. In contrast, the firms that were most successful in commercializing a disruptive technology were those framing their primary development challenge as a marketing one: to build or find a market where product competition occurred along dimensions that favored the disruptive attributes of the product.” 

13. “managers may think they control the flow of resources in their firms, in the end it is really customers and investors who dictate how money will be spent because companies with investment patterns that don’t satisfy their customers and investors don’t survive.” 

14. “What this implies at a deeper level is that many of what are now widely accepted principles of good management are, in fact, only situationally appropriate. There are times at which it is right not to listen to customers, right to invest in developing lower-performance products that promise lower margins, and right to aggressively pursue small, rather than substantial, markets.” 

15. “If good management practice drives the failure of successful firms faced with disruptive technological change, then the usual answers to companies, problems—planning better, working harder, becoming more customer- driven, and taking a longer-term perspective—all exacerbate the problem.” 

BUY ON AMAZON: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)