back to article 'Disruptive Innovation'? Take this theory and stuff it: MIT Profs

"Disruption" – Silicon Valley's favourite buzzword for intimidating other, profit-making parts of the economy – has taken a knock. Founder Clayton Christensen, a Harvard business Prof, spawned a consultancy and investment company off the back of his 1998 business bestseller, The Innovator's Dilemma. The buzzwords "disruptive …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

    Why not?

    1. My-Handle

      Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

      Because they were staffed with printers, ad designers and field sales people, not a whole raft of software developers.

    2. Tony Haines

      Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

      "Why not?"

      Network effects.

    3. Panicnow

      Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

      Because their legal dept told them they had to obey the law!

      Google didn't have a legal dept when it started!

      Now <disruption> is break-the-law-big, so the politicos can't close the door!

      Banks, Taxi, hotels, data protection, security, you name it, the <disrupters> ignore the <local> law

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

      No reason why they couldn't. The early directory services from Yahoo etc were easily within the remit of a few web developers. The Yellow pages had the march with masses of data that could have made them the de-facto directory for a given region. With that kick-start it could have evolved into a search engine or diverted into a business like rated-people and had the best service person site in the UK.

      The issue, I would expect, is that there was a threat to its existing business model as they would have to offer listings for free to gain fast and permanent traction (Web advertising wasn't the multi-billion dollar industry it is today).

      Just because this report dismisses some examples that didn't work out or weren't truly disruptive doesn't mean it isn't a sound business model. It normally is the people outside who look in and wonder why things couldn't be done differently and more efficiently another way - often using technology.

      I worked for a company where the product they supplied was currently being supplied from a company big enough to be the name people used for the product itself. Our company did the core engineering bit completely differently and became the market leader in the space of about 4 years.

    5. John Gamble

      Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

      At least one did (Dex), but you're talking multiple printers across (in this case) the U.S., whose specialty was printing, not web technology (and the collection of information was often handled by a different company).

      You may as well ask why I didn't just decide to become a neurosurgeon -- it's not in any way part of my background, and I'd go bankrupt while learning how to handle those cutty things.

  2. thx1138v2

    Back in the 90's there was another ivory tower business cult called "business re-engineering" or something to that effect. Businesses were reorganized, parts of the business outsourced, people laid off, and existing processes generally put in a blender minced. Most of the efforts along these lines were failures or at least major setbacks.

    Some 10 or 15 years afterwards the man who devised this ivory tower business philosophy admitted it was a failure because he failed to recognize that businesses are run by people rather than machines and that people aren't mass produced cogs in a machine. The re-engineering efforts decimated the knowledgeable portion of the business's employees and morale turned very bad.

    This new ivory tower business buzz word BS sounds much the same. While academics can be dead wrong, they will retain their positions regardless of what happens to the businesses that try to follow their ideas. Not so the businesses.

    There's a Yogi-ism that covers it exactly: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

    1. Naselus

      "Some 10 or 15 years afterwards the man who devised this ivory tower business philosophy admitted it was a failure because he failed to recognize that businesses are run by people rather than machines and that people aren't mass produced cogs in a machine."

      But HP still hired him to the C-suite anyway.

    2. AdamWill

      not 'ivory tower'

      The 'disruption' concept is kind of the opposite of an 'ivory tower' thing. It's mostly being recited by businesses operating in the 'real world' as some sort of mantra against criticism of any kind ("BUT BUT WE'RE DISRUPTORS SHUTUP SHUTUP NOW"). It's the people in the ivory towers pointing out that it's bullshit. You get a nice clear view of the situation on the ground from an ivory tower - much better than the people on the ground have. Which is why people built 'em in the first place.

    3. John Lilburne Silver badge

      This new ivory tower business buzz word BS sounds much the same.

      Back in the 80s our factory manager was holding a joint management/union meeting, and was telling us about developments at a sister site a couple of miles away:

      [

      They've had Management Consultants in ... they've spent £100,000 on this and the upshot is that they have taken the name tags of their doors saying Dr. Jeykll or Mr Hyde and every one is now calling them Jim or Joe. I know what to call them "Bunch of fucking stupid cunts" that's what they are.

      ]

  3. Decisionscience

    Please - you have to be kidding

    So you'd like me/us to believe that of the 77 examples listed (all large Fortune 500 companies):

    31% of the 77 incumbents were NOT involved in sustaining innovation (product/process improvement)

    78% did NOT produce products that exceeded their median customer's needs

    39% were NEVER capable of mounting a valid response (matching prices or technology)

    38% (over a third) remained the same company (not jut the same name) and are still the DOMINANT in their industry

    Pleeeaaase. Who ae you tying to kid?

    Yes, Seagate and Polaroid and AT&T do still exist, but only because someone was able to buy the name from their bankrupt or almost bankrupt remains and slapped it onto their own nameplate.

    Give - me - a - break.

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