How to Suffocate Innovation
Clay Christensen explains the mechanisms that prevent Disruptive Innovation from ever occurring in large corporations. It is the natural outcome of mature management and diligent corporate stewardship.
It works like this:
You systematically groom your top managers for success, and assess their abilities based on past execution.
This functionally means that they are adept at reducing risks to your CURRENT business. They specialize in meeting known metrics like product performance and cost reduction.
It also means, that they systematically squash, or mutate new ideas into versions of known business.
The Result is that all the ideas filtered up through the ranks get gradually scrubbed and refined to the point that they are "low risk," and are focused on today's business.
In other words, they are Sustaining Innovations, not Disruptive innovations.
You current managers are ensuring that today's valuable resources are dedicated to today's business and customer needs. This is a good thing (for your current business).
At the same time however, it ensures that tomorrows business is left open to Disruptive Competitors.
The Barksdale Insight
Modern management theory and practice is focused on improving today's margins. This is very difficult to accomplish. Meeting these challenges has matured many great leaders.
The experiences that forged us however, are not themselves noble activities worth continuing by themselves.
The difficulty of hunting mammoths for instance, certainly challenged our prehistoric ancestors...
but it was the creation of new markets (cultivation and trade), not bigger clubs that ensured our species' survival.
Are you cultivating the offerings of tomorrow, or simply building better spears?
Are you too good at today's business to be preparing for tomorrow's markets?