|Publisher||Harvard Business Review Press; 1st edition (May 1, 1997)|
|Followed by||''The Innovator's Solution''|
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, generally referred to as The Innovator's Dilemma, first published in 1997, is the most well-known work of the Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen.
Clayton Christensen demonstrates how successful, outstanding companies can do everything "right" and yet still lose their market leadership - or even fail - as new, unexpected competitors rise and take over the market. There are two key parts to this dilemma.
For this reason, the next generation product is not being built for the incumbent's customer set and this large customer set is not interested in the new innovation and keeps demanding more innovation with the incumbent product. Unfortunately this incumbent innovation is limited to the overall value of the product as it is at the later end of the S-curve. Meanwhile, the new entrant is deep into the S-curve and providing significant value to the new product. By the time the new product becomes interesting to the incumbent's customers it is too late for the incumbent to react to the new product. At this point it is too late for the incumbent to keep up with the new entrant's rate of improvement, which by then is on the near-vertical portion of its S-curve trajectory.
Through this compelling multi-industry study, Christensen introduces his seminal theory of "disruptive innovation" that has changed the way managers and CEOs around the world think about innovation.
Christensen then argues that the following are common principles that incumbents must address
He also argues the following strategies assist incumbents in succeeding against the disruptive technology
Shortly after the release of the book, Christensen "received the Global Business Book Award for The Innovator's Dilemma and The Economist named it as one of the six most important books about business ever written". It also received the Global Business Book Award as the best business book of the year (1997).
One criticism of the book by Ben Thompson is that the theory applies best to businesses with business customers. Thompson says that consumers are not as rational and single-minded as business customers, and hence are less susceptible to disruption. Thompson points to the iPhone as a consumer product that is not easily disrupted by a low-end disruption; Christensen maintains that the iPhone and Apple are good candidates for disruption.
The term disruptive technologies was first described in depth with this book by Christensen; but the term was later changed to disruptive innovation in a later book (The Innovator's Solution). A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network that will eventually disrupt an already existing market and replace an existing product.
Since the book was published, various articles have been written, both critiquing and supporting Clayton Christensen's work.
The Innovator's Dilemma proved popular; not only was it reprinted, but a follow-on book entitled The Innovator's Solution was published. His books Disrupting Class about education and The Innovator's Prescription about health care both utilize ideas from The Innovator's Dilemma.