Notes from Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation Talk

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As part of the Dreamforce Executive Summit there was a private lunch with the famous HBS professor Clayton Christensen. Christensen, best known for the book The Innovator’s Dilemma (at Duke I had economics classes with Matt Christensen, Clayton’s son, and remember him to be very sharp). A year ago Clayton Christensen had a stroke and has since gone through rehabilitation to learn how to speak again. His talk was sharp, funny, and insightful.

Here are a few notes from Clayton Christensen’s talk:

  • Decentralization is disruptive, and is hard to catch
  • Pace of performance improvement outpaces ability to use improvements
  • Entrants typically win at disruption
  • Disruption generates repeated upside surprise
  • Decentralization follows centralization (think about what has happened with computing and how that will happen with healthcare)
  • The right product architecture depends upon the basis of competition

Clayton Christensen told great stories, anecdotes, and really drove his point home that innovation is disruptive. The most common story followed the pattern that a big company doesn’t want to compete in a smaller, less profitable market and an upstart figures out how to be successful in the smaller market slowly moving up market until the big company is defeated.

What else? What are your thoughts on Clayton Christensen and disruptive innovation?

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