The Innovator's Dilemma
by Clayton M. Christensen
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Recommendations on The Innovator's Dilemma

Guy Kawasaki's Review:

This was a formative read for me: it taught me why it’s so hard to come up with a second hit and why startups often have the advantage when creating curve-jumping innovation.


Steve Jobs's Review:

Apple made a habit of disrupting itself. The iPhone, for instance, had lots of the features of the iconic iPod, thus rendering the music device obsolete.

Jobs was able to see that that cannibalism was a necessary part of growth, thanks to the 'Innovator's Dilemma' by legendary Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen.

The book posits that companies get ruined by their own success, staying committed to a product even after technology (and customers) move on, like Blockbuster did with physical movie rentals.

Jobs made it clear that the same thing wouldn't happen to Apple, as he said in his explanation of why it needed to embrace cloud computing:

It's imporant that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls 'the innovator's dilemma,' where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don't want to be left behind.



Drew Houston's Review:

the first (of many many) business books that got me into studying business in a more structured way


Mark Suster's Review:

One of the most influential books of my career is The Innovator’s Dilemma byClay Christensen. I cannot recommend it enough for people in the technology or media sectors.


Tiffani A.B.'s Review:

Interesting. – Reading The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen


Fred Wilson's Review:

Crowdsourcing a list of great books to read about strategy …


My post on Product>Strategy>Business Model got a lot of comments and other reactions out there on the social web and from that I realized that many confuse strategy and tactics. And so I thought I would attempt to define strategy in business.

I like this definition that I got at wikipedia:

Strategic management is a level of managerial activity below setting goals and above tactics.

Strategy takes what you want to achieve and develops a plan to get there. From strategy you can develop tactics and implement them.

For me, strategy is as much about what you are not going to do as what you are going to do. Also from wikipedia:

Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited.

Strategy also involves how you are going to differentiate from competitors. Competitors are a given in business. How you compete with them will define the business. I like this framework a lot:

The basis of competition

Companies derive competitive advantage from how an organization produces its products, how it acts within a market relative to its competitors, or other aspects of the business. Specific approaches may include:

  • Differentiation, in which products compete by offering a unique combination of features.
  • Cost, in which products compete to offer an acceptable list of features at the lowest possible cost.
  • Segmentation, in which products are tailored for the unique needs of a specific market, instead of trying to serve all consumers.

Strategic thinking can be seen in other disciplines outside of business. Two areas I have studied carefully are sports and the military. Winning teams and winning armies have often won because they have out strategized the losing team. You can see that in the Revolutionary War when Washington was outmanned and outgunned. And yet his strategic moves put the British on the defensive and eventually won the war.

Don't think you are going to win in business with a better product, more capital, or a bigger team. You can't just throw resources at a market and expect to win. The winner in a market most often has the best strategy and exectutes it well.

So read up on strategic thinking. Chandler and Drucker would be my two choices. Sun Tzu would also be on the list. Henry V by Shakespeare might also be worth reading.

And make sure that your company has both mission and vision (goals) and a strategy. It's too easy to skip from goals to tactics and you will not be well served by doing that.


Mark Cuban's Review:

This helped me make sense of why things worked and didn't work in the technology industry. 


Max Levchin's Review:

What’s your favorite business book you’d recommend to young entrepreneurs and why?

Some good ones from the “pure business” category: Zero to One, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, etc. 


Steve Blank's Review:

Innovator’s Dilemma and Innovator’s Solution helped me refine the notion of the Four types of Startup Markets.  I read these books as the handbook for startups trying to disrupt an established company


Jeff Bezos's Review:

An enormously influential business book whose principles Amazon acted on and that facilitated the creation of the Kindle and AWS. Some companies are reluctant to embrace disruptive technology because it might alienate customers and undermine their core business, but Christensen argues that ignoring potential disruption is even costlier.


Marc Andreessen's Review:

Q) Hey @pmarca is all innovation disruptive? If yes, why the redundancy? If not,what the hell is undisruptive innovation?

A) It's called sustaining innovation. There is also a third kind, discontinuous innovation. Read the Christensen book :-).


Ben Horowitz's Review:

Interestingly this is the only business book that Steve Jobs liked. In his biography of Jobs, Walter Isaacson wrote that it “deeply influenced” Jobs. Fittingly the book shows why and how most companies miss out on new waves of innovation — they do exactly what they are taught to do in business school.


Malcolm Gladwell's Review:

I came very late to that book [The Innovator’s Dilemma]. I only read it six months ago. And I haven't stopped thinking of it ever since.



Andrew Grove's Review:

this book addresses a tough problem that most successful companies will face eventually. Its lucid, analytical -- and scary.