“…most often the very skills that propel an organization to succeed in sustaining circumstances systematically bungle the best ideas for disruptive growth. An organization’s capabilities become its disabilities when disruption is afoot.”
- Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Solution
In November 2005, Paul Graham wrote an essay titled The Venture Capital Squeeze. It had been over five years since the Nasdaq peaked in March 2000, and it was becoming apparent that VC firms were having trouble deploying the tens of billions of dollars they raised during the boom years. Graham argued that the proliferation of money combined with the decreasing costs to start a business were making the VC job more difficult, prophesying significant changes for the industry. He was right.
Over the years, venture capitalists have been some of the most ardent students of disruptive innovation. Large pools of capital have been … Read More »
It’s amazing what you can find in the garbage. When the Apple I was introduced to the public in 1976, it was built out of obsolete parts long forgotten by the titans of the computing industry. In its earliest form, the Apple computer lacked a keyboard or monitor. When the new and improved Apple II started to be mass marketed in the 1980’s it was positioned as a toy for children. Relative to the mini-computers and mainframe computers of the business world, the devices that started the personal computing revolutions were built from scraps. Yet, years later, the devices built out of spare parts that Jobs and Woz built in a garage gave way to some the most valuable businesses in the world.
My colleague and mentor at Harvard Business School, Professor … Read More »
Note to my readers: You may not like the contents of this post. It’s not meant to be a judgement, but an observation. I am certainly guilty of the behavior I am discouraging. Though I would not categorize myself as one of our best and brightest…
Thomas Kuhn wouldn’t be impressed with the hordes of MBAs departing from top tier business schools to start new media companies, build the next big mobile gaming company, or launch another clone daily-deal site. But that’s not where Kuhn’s disappointment would end. Kuhn would probably be disheartened by the slew of intelligent students learning to code in computer science programs instead of pursuing degrees in electrical engineering or computer engineering degrees. In short, despite the fact that technology is one of the last bright spots in an otherwise … Read More »
This post was a guest submission from Chung-Shen Chang. Chung-Shen graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and has received various distinctions in fine arts. He has worked for years as a graphic designer for various print publications. Despite his accreditations, however, he struggled to find employment from February 2010 to September 2011.
A man wiser than myself once said, “Luck is preparedness meeting opportunity.” I had plenty of time to think about this phrase during my year of unemployment.
I spent a lot of time preparing. I stopped sending out boilerplate cover letters, rewrote my resume, strategically shuffled my portfolio. When opportunity didn’t knock, I went out looking for it. I applied to art school, hoping that higher education would open more doors. I started looking in unorthodox places for work. I called in favors. I went door to door, handing out copies … Read More »
“It’s better to be lucky than good.”
Those words were uttered to me by Sam Rose as I set off to begin working my first real job. Unlike most Harvard educated business people, my first real job wasn’t glamorous by teenage standards. Instead of working a retail store, serving as a waiter, or tutoring, I worked as an assistant to a building engineer at a 900,000 square foot building in downtown DC. While the title seems nice, the day to day job as an assistant to a building engineer is quite the opposite. Every day I arrived at work at 5:50, emptied the trash cans in the garage building, scrubbed away any stains on the concrete floors, checked to see that all the industrial fans were working, and then proceeded up to the roof to take on whatever tasks my manager … Read More »
Over the past 4 months, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with the guru of disruptive innovation, Clay Christensen, on a book on Jobs-to-be-done theory — the theory that guides our perspective on marketing and product development. Over the course of the effort, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the drivers of disruption and the ways that we can foster innovation. In particular, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to define something we’ve never quite understood; the triggers of disruption.
A Description of Disruptive Innovation:
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept of disruption, it will be valuable to present a quick primer on the subject. Over the past 2 decades, Clay has led the charge in examining the concept of something he called disruptive innovation. … Read More »
This Blog was originally posted on the Harvard Business Review Online
With 9% unemployment, a coming election, and financial markets teetering on the brink of disaster, the employment crisis is hard to miss. Unfortunately, even with the crisis at the forefront of today’s discussion, there is little analysis of the actual causes of the problem. A large contingent of us simply assumes it’s a failure of the fat cats on Wall Street. It’s not that simple.
Greed, the housing bubble, and increasing globalization all played their part, but I believe there’s another significant factor at play: the increase of productivity. We all love the shiny new products that make our lives easier — and the new methods of doing business that help us earn more — but those same technological and business innovations come … Read More »
On November the 4th, I received a response to the Idolize Gates article that was well articulated and respectful. I felt the need to respond and wanted to share so you each know my opinion. Please RT to anyone who may be interested in the subject—————-
On Nov 4, 2011, at 2:58 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Dear Mr. Wessel,I read with interest your recent article “Idolize Bill Gates, not Steve Jobs”. I am intrigued by your message that a cure for malaria somehow trumps revolutionizing mobile computing.
Your ideas are typical of conventional North American thought: citizens should strive to be “good people”. Why should we be good people? Second, it exemplifies the “hand to mouth” attitude that most people hold today. ”If it ain’t useful now, it’s not worth my money or time.” Conclusion: theoretical or intellectual achievements have no place … Read More »
Both Jobs and Gates had immeasurable impacts on the world. Apple ushered in the era of personal computing in many respects. Microsoft’s platform made it possible for a generation of computer scientists to learn and flourish. Apple seems to have perfected the art of delivering fantastic consumer products. Microsoft has worked diligently to make the enterprise more and more efficient. Regardless of which camp you fall in today, it’s impossible to deny each corporation’s contribution. Jobs and Gates each deeply respected each other’s contributions.
Bill Gates stepped away from Microsoft in 2006 and, despite the company’s growing troubles in the face of the mobile disruption, has devoted his genius to solving the … Read More »
This post originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review online
After 30 contentious months, Carol Bartz is out as the CEO of Yahoo. She announced her removal yesterday via an iPad email to her employees. Few in the tech world are surprised and Yahoo shareholders are rejoicing. But should they be?
Bartz isn’t the one to blame for her failure. The people to blame for Yahoo’s failed turnaround sit on the company’s board. Yahoo’s board made a terrible decision in appointing Bartz to handle the turnaround. By firing her, they merely attempted to placate themselves. Yahoo’s shareholders should be waiting to rejoice until the new chief executive is announced.
To understand my stance, it’s important to understand one … Read More »