The Innovator’s Dilemma Re-visited

I posted the following in response to this criticism by Vivek Wadhwa of Clayton Christensen’s now-aging work on innovation and disruption:
“This is self-promotion in the guise of an academic critique, as the breathless technophilia of the video makes clear. Much of the criticism of Christensen, and his defence against it, hinges on what is meant by ‘disruption’, but this is trivial. Christensen’s key insight was that it is almost impossible for an incumbent to defend itself against a truly disruptive technology; and the only chance of doing so is to establish a separate entity to exploit the technology and let it compete with the parent. The principle lives on in skunkworks everywhere, and – for example – in GM’s belated realization that it should not have killed the Volt. In my own field of digital printing, the makers of ‘big iron’ printing presses have finally come to the realization that they need to offer digital printing presses or risk being made irrelevant by the likes of HP, Canon – and newcomer Landa Corp. ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ continues to provide a guide to this landscape, irrespective of its author’s recent quibbling about whether Uber and Tesla are truly disruptive. Perhaps, in a future article, Vivek Wadhwa could provide a more detailed prescription on how to react to disruptive technologies than merely encouraging ‘bold new thinking’.”

I explored the relevance of ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ to the pre-press and printing industry in this 2004 article in the late, lamented Seybold Report.