The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovators Dilemma

The Innovator’s Dilemma is the revolutionary business book that has forever changed corporate America. Based on a truly radical idea—that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right—this Wall Street Journal, Business Week and New York Times Business bestseller is one of the most provocative and important business books ever written. Entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs ignore its wisdom and its warnings at their great peril.

Book Review by Rev. Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal

Attention all future game-changers: If you’re looking to change the world, you can’t follow the world’s rules. This book gives you a blueprint for action.
The Innovator’s Dilemma explains how excellent companies with excellent managers with excellent teams and excellent strategies can do everything right and still fail. The Innovator’s Dilemma also explains how innovators with “disruptive” technologies on the fringes of the mainstream cannot follow the same rules as existing firms.

In driving toward market leadership, existing and disruptive firms must follow separate and distinct paths.

Christensen shows that successful innovation is not unpredictable. This comes with the recognition, however, that “data only exist about the past” and hence what is working in the present for leading firms need not apply to disruptive firms of the future. This paradigm necessarily applies to all companies and is not exclusive to technological ones.

The core value of this book is that it gives specific, actionable strategies on when listening to consumers is dead wrong, when “what has worked before” should be abandoned, and when cost-ineffective strategies should be pursued as opposed to more profitable ones. All of the author’s conclusions are supported by extensive research and thorough market analysis.

Part I is called “Why Great Companies Fail” and its aim is self-explanatory. Part II, the larger chunk of the book, is called “Managing Disruptive Technology Change” and gives practical and real-life advice on how to adapt to innovation and changing market landscapes. The entire book is grounded in historical and contemporary examples so each point that the author makes is illustrated with a case study.

Another benefit of this book is that it is repetitive and the author frequently pauses to recount what has already been said and where he is going. This makes reading isolated sections of the book very easy without having to rely on other parts for clarity. Also, although the book is aimed at those in the business world, it is extremely easy to read and understandable from a non-business perspective. Furthermore, in order to get the “main idea” one could just read the Preface and Chapter 11 (Summary) to extract the essential points of the text. In the end, The Innovator’s Dilemma is a business classic for a reason, and no entrepreneur, founder of a startup, innovator, businessperson—or anyone who thinks there is a better way to do things—should be without it.

Editorial Reviews


“”The Innovator’s Dilemma” is becoming a handbook for CEOs remaking their businesses for the Net.”- BusinessWeek”

In a sea of mostly worthless business books, this is an upside surprise – sharply written and rigorous enough to be predictive…”The Innovator’s Dilemma” could be the wake-up call you need.”- Rich Karlgaard, “Forbes””

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” captures the critical role of leadership in creating markets.”- John Seely Brown, chief scientist, Xerox Corp., and director, Xerox Parc”

Succinct and clearly written, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is an important book that belongs on every manager’s bookshelf. Highly recommended.”- Harry C. Edwards, “””

This book ought to chill any executive who feels bulletproof – and inspire entrepreneurs aiming their guns.”- “Forbes”

“This is a compelling argument, thoroughly researched and superbly written, which challenges conventional theory.”- Jon Hughes, “Supply Management”

“I cannot recommend this book strongly enough – ignore it at your peril.”- Martin Fakley, “Information Access”

From the Back Cover

In this revolutionary bestseller, innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen says outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership—or worse, disappear altogether. And not only does he prove what he says, but he tells others how to avoid a similar fate.

Focusing on “disruptive technology,” Christensen shows why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. Whether in electronics or retailing, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know when to abandon traditional business practices. Using the lessons of successes and failures from leading companies, The Innovator’s Dilemma presents a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Find out:

  • When it is right not to listen to customers.
  • When to invest in developing lower-performance products that promise lower margins.
  • When to pursue small markets at the expense of seemingly larger and more lucrative ones.

Sharp, cogent, and provocative, The Innovator’s Dilemma is one of the most talked-about books of our time—and one no savvy manager or entrepreneur should be without.

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About the Author

Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In addition to his most recent book, Competing Against Luck, he is the author of nine books, including several New York Times bestsellers — The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, Disrupting Class, and and most recently How Will You Measure Your Life?. Christensen is the co-founder of Innosight, a growth-strategy consultancy; Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm; and the Christensen Institute, a non-profit think tank. In 2011 and 2013, he was named the world’s most influential business thinker by Thinkers50.

Originally published: 1997

AuthorClayton M. Christensen

ISBN: 0875845851

Genre: Business

CountryUnited States

Followed by: ”The Innovator’s Solution

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