Disruptive Innovation

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Five Steps to Strategic Sustainability and Abundance

Kenyan mobile money pioneer M-Pesa is just one of many companies in developing economies that build virtuous cycles where solving ecological problems and building resilient communities opens new opportunities. Adopting an abundant perspective, argues author Jay Friedlander, provides concrete economic, social, and environmental objectives that unleash new possibilities.

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Debating Disruptive Innovation

Few MIT Sloan Management Review articles garner as much attention as Andrew A. King and Baljir Baatartogtokh’s “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” After surveying 79 industry experts, King and Baatartogtokh concluded that many of the cases cited as examples of disruptive innovation by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen and his coauthor Michael E. Raynor did not fit four of the theory’s key elements well. Here, three experts provide responses to continue the conversation.

“How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” was the question raised by an article in the fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. In this issue, several more experts weigh in on the topic.

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Keep Calm and Manage Disruption

Disruption can be averted, and many businesses manage through it by beating the new competition, joining them, or waiting them out. “To be sure, facing disruption is no picnic,” writes Joshua S. Gans, author of The Disruption Dilemma. “But it also isn’t the existential threat that so many see it as.” Many businesses are finding ways to weaken disruptive events, sometimes by investing aggressively in the new innovation after entrants had brought it to market or by acquiring the entrants and the actual disruption.

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From the Editor: Disruption Everywhere?

The Fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review has two big themes: developing tomorrow’s leaders, and disruption. In a special report on leadership, four articles explore how to engage, keep, and train the next generation of managers. “Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection” highlights the detection techniques to become more resilient. And “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” takes a deep dive into Clayton M. Christensen’s influential theory of disruptive innovation.

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How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?

Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has been very influential. But how well does the theory describe what happens in business? The authors of this article surveyed industry experts for each of 77 case examples of disruptive innovation found in two of Christensen’s seminal books. The results suggest that many of the cases do not correspond closely with four elements of the theory of disruptive innovation — and the theory may not fit as many situations as is often assumed.

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How is Digitization Affecting Your Business?

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How much of a threat does digital disruption present to your business? A short online questionnaire from Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner, both of MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research, helps assess digital risk. “Although sweeping technology-enabled change often takes longer than we expect, history shows that the impact of such change can be greater than we ever imagined,” they write. “Think steam engines, cars, airplanes, TVs, telephones and, most recently, mobile phones and e-books.”

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How Disruptive Will Innovations from Emerging Markets Be?

Companies located in developing countries are currently serving billions of local consumers with innovative and inexpensive products. But what happens when more of those companies make the leap into more developed markets? Is it inevitable that these companies will overtake the more developed companies? Using historical examples, this article looks at how disruptors and incumbents compete. For incumbents, knowing that much of their fate rests in their hands is half the battle won.

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Clay Christensen Asks: How Will You Measure Your Life?

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In May, 2012, the New Yorker published an 11-page profile of Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor. The article details his fascination with low-end disruptive products (articulated in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma), his Mormon faith, and how good people, like good companies, can lose their way in life. That last topic is the subject of Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? and his TED talk of the same name.

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What to Do Against Disruptive Business Models (When and How to Play Two Games at Once)

Fighting against a disruptive business model by rolling out a second business model is one option for companies to consider. But to make that work, you need to avoid the trap of getting stuck in the middle.

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A new look at older technologies

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Conventional wisdom has it that companies whose markets are being transformed by disruptive new technologies need to figure out how to switch to the new dominant technology. But two researchers argue that an alternative strategy –one that involves rethinking opportunities for the old technology — can sometimes make sense.

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Innovation's Silver Lining

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Innovation consultant Scott D. Anthony, author of a new book called “The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times,” calls the era we’re in “the great disruption” — a period when competitive advantage is temporary. And “no matter how tough the times, innovation happens,” Anthony observed.

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Clayton Christensen on innovation

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A leading expert on disruptive innovation discusses a range of topics — from health care to innovation in financial markets –in an interview published in MIT Sloan Management Review.

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Why Christensen thinks it's a good time for innovation

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Sure, the economy’s bad. But it’s a good time to innovate, according to Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor who focuses on innovation. Our interview with Christensen is featured in the new edition of Business Insight.

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