21.7.14

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT CHANGES WE MUST MAKE.

That's an observation I referred to in a previous evaluation of the folly of disruption.  Here are a few more pithy comments in the same vein.  Paul Krugman. "[M]aybe we need to do less disruption and put more effort into doing whatever we do well."  That follows from thinking of disruption as emergent and spontaneous, rather than something that can be consciously willed. "'[D]isruption' is the process by which smaller, faster, more innovative competitors come along and make preexisting incumbents obsolete."  Perhaps there is some merit in a management devoting some resources to thinking about those sorts of product or process innovations that could render their company useless, but that's not the same thing as the snake-oil peddled by business gurus.
The rapid pace of disruptive innovation happens because their low cost allows a lot of experimentation. Most of the experiments fail, but the successes push the industry forward. So the fact that the specific disruptive companies [Clayton] Christensen backed failed doesn't really contradict his theory, which doesn't say anything about which firms will best capitalize on a disruptive trend or even which disruptive technologies will have the biggest impact.
And perhaps thinking about how to do better things one already does well heads off a lot of disruption.  This essay, which will reward careful study, suggests that there's more to effective management than the latest fad or the latest airport-bookstore best-seller. "Corporate America, health care, manufacturing, and the contemporary university have all tied their reputations to their delivery of innovation. Innovation comes with lots of turmoil, unilateral management decision making, and interference with how people do their jobs." Ultimately, though, the containers have to be delivered, the steel cast, the code installed.  One of these days, consumers will become even more resistant to service degradation in the name of offering better service.

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