I just finished an excellent book by Mr. Christensen, called “The Innovator’s Dilemma“. It is – at least for me – a must-read for any manager who is even remotely interested in his trade. I agree fully with ideas in that book, I think that life keeps delivering proof that Mr. Christensen is right. I like his take on disruptive technology and I like his idea of value network. I also like his idea that not only people have capabilities, but also organisations do as well (see my favourite passages for an excerpt). Organisations must have capabilities at least supporting those of their people, otherwise even greatest manager will not be able to achieve much. That much is true.
I think though that one can take his book a little further. It is true that well established organisations do not move down market in order to exploit disruptive technologies, which offer lesser margins, different customer set and different value network. But I think that even if technology remains at least similar if not the same, different organisation may exploit disruptive systems or value set in comparison to established firm.
If established company moved up market and sells the product to higher customer set, leaving some customers unattended due to mature processes and different goals in terms of sales numbers, some organisation may enter with disruptive systems in order to attend to those “lower tier” customers and serve them well enough to get value from similar technology offered, maybe with different pricing. Mature organisation will have difficulties to get back down market to serve same customers and may therefore lose market leadership as a consequence, since the competing company will eventually use their experience to move up market.
I would not only pay attention to disruptive technologies, but also to disruptive processes.