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The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor

The full title of this book by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor is

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a 5 Stars rating. This means it is Excellent.

Here is my book review.

An excellent book that makes powerful points about growth through innovation

This book is mainly written about giant companies who need to grow faster than the stock market expects in order to increase the share price.

As such, is this dilemma relevant to the small business market? The authors acknowledge they have written the book for big, established companies but state that the ideas will apply for start-up entrepreneurs.

The book is based around answering a series of questions.

1) How can we beat our most powerful competitors?
2) What products should we develop?
3) Which initial customers will constitute the most viable foundation upon which to build a successful business?
4) Which activities required to design, produce, sell, and distribute our product should our company do internally, and which should we rely upon our partners and suppliers to provide?
5) How can we be sure that we maintain strong competitive advantages that yield attractive profits?
6) What is the best organizational structure for this venture?
7) How do we get the details of a winning strategy right?
8) Whose investment capital will help us succeed, and whose capital might be the kiss of death?
9) What role should the CEO play in sustaining the growth of the business?

Each is the focus of a chapter along with answers the related questions.

The first of these recaps the lead author’s earlier book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. This explains why markets are vulnerable to disruptive innovation in the low margin markets and small markets. It is fascinating because the process is remorseless yet seems so logical for incumbents.

The next chapter urges market segmentation based on the job to be done by the customer. In my training, I use an example of the same person making very different choices for a restaurant for a romantic dinner, an important business lunch and a large family celebration. The use situation is often overlooked as people rush to segment by demographics or psychographics.

Ironically, because the book is old, the big example used is the Blackberry device which was later swept to one side by the development of multi-purpose smartphones.

I’m not going into each chapter in this review but I hope I’ve given you an indication of the scope and insight available from this excellent book.

Are all markets open to disruptive innovation. Clearly technology product markets like computers and mobile phones are vulnerable. The Internet has undermined retail businesses but also financial services. Office cleaning or painting and decorating haven’t yet been disrupted but are robots far away?

The contents is essential both for offensive and defensive reasons. The world won’t stand still so you need to understand how you can best protect what you have while also knowing how to develop the next set of products and services.

One irritation is the book describes diagrams in the book, rather than using diagrams to summarise text explanations. If you read the kindle version on a small device, like I do, you will struggle. Sadly this is a common occurrence.

What I particularly like about the book is that it’s rooted in cause and effect logic. What is logical leads people in the wrong direction because they don’t see the negative aspects and take actions to avoid the inevitable consequences.

This reinforces my belief that executives don’t think deeply enough.

The book is written for the corporate market but with some effort it can be transferred to smaller businesses and entrepreneurs who have businesses that may be on either side i.e. they are the disruptors or they face being disrupted.

You can buy the book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com


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