Clayton Christensen Wrongly Predicted Bombardier Would Disrupt Boeing

Clayton Christensen and co-authors predicted in Seeing What’s Next that Bombardier was well-positioned to use disruptive innovation to leapfrog Boeing and Airbus.

(p. B8) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said it would acquire Bombardier Inc.’s regional-jet business for $550 million in a transaction that puts the companies on different paths in the aviation sector.

The deal unveiled Tuesday [June 25, 2019] marks the Canadian company’s exit from the commercial passenger-aircraft business following failed bets that it could compete with Airbus SE and Boeing Co. in the 100-seat single-aisle plane category.

Bombardier has restructured its aviation division over the past two years, highlighted by its joint venture with Airbus that put the European plane maker in charge of the production and sales of the 110- to 130-seat planes that the Montreal company had originally conceived as the CSeries. Those jets are now rebranded as the Airbus A220.

For the full story, see:

Vieira, Paul. “Bombardier to Sell Jet Unit.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 26, 2019): B8.

(Note: bracketed date added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date June 25, 2019, and has the title “Mitsubishi to Acquire Bombardier’s Regional Jet Unit for $550 Million.”)

The Christensen book mentioned above, is:

Christensen, Clayton M., Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth. Seeing What’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004.

iPhone Made Internet “Almost Ubiquitous”

(p. B3) By essentially compressing a powerful, networked computer into a pocket-size device and making it easy to use, Steve Jobs made the internet almost ubiquitous and fundamentally altered decades-old consumer habits in areas like music and books. What’s more, the functionality packed into the iPhone made it a digital Swiss Army knife, supplanting existing tools from email to calendar to maps to calculators.

. . .

Along the way, smartphones disrupted communication. By offering faster, easier ways to communicate—text, photo, video and social networks—“the iPhone destroyed the phone call,” says Joshua Gans, professor at the University of Toronto and author of the book, “The Disruption Dilemma.” “It’s funny we even call it a phone.”

For the full story, see:

Betsy Morris. “What the iPhone Wrought.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, June 24, 2017): B3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 23, 2017, and the title “From Music to Maps, How Apple’s iPhone Changed Business.”)

The Gans book mentioned above, is:

Gans, Joshua. The Disruption Dilemma. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016.

Venture Capital Can Force Startups to Grow Too Fast

(p. 8) . . . for every unicorn, there are countless other start-ups that grew too fast, burned through investors’ money and died — possibly unnecessarily. Start-up business plans are designed for the rosiest possible outcome, and the money intensifies both successes and failures. Social media is littered with tales of companies that withered under the pressure of hypergrowth, were crushed by so-called “toxic V.C.s” or were forced to raise too much venture capital — something known as the “foie gras effect.”

Now a counter movement, led by entrepreneurs who are jaded by the traditional playbook, is rejecting that model. While still a small part of the start-up community, these founders have become more vocal in the last year as they connect venture capitalists’ insatiable appetite for growth to the tech industry’s myriad crises.

. . .

. . . founders have decided the expectations that come with accepting venture capital aren’t worth it. Venture investing is a high-stakes game in which companies are typically either wild successes or near total failures.

“Big problems have occurred when you have founders who have unwillingly or unknowingly signed on for an outcome they didn’t know they were signing on for,” said Josh Kopelman, a venture investor at First Round Capital, an early backer of Uber, Warby Parker and Ring.

. . .

But people like Sandra Oh Lin, the chief executive of KiwiCo, a seller of children’s activity kits, say that more money isn’t necessary. Ms. Oh Lin raised a little over $10 million in venture funding between 2012 and 2014, but she is now rebuffing offers of more just as her company has hit on a product people want — the very moment when investors would love to pour more gas on the fire. KiwiCo is profitable and had nearly $100 million in sales in 2018, a 65 percent increase over the prior year, Ms. Oh Lin said.

“We are aggressive about growth, but we are not a company that chases growth at all costs,” Ms. Oh Lin said. “We want to build a company that lasts.” Continue reading “Venture Capital Can Force Startups to Grow Too Fast”

Innovative Entrepreneurs Bring Prosperity to the Poor

(p. A17) As the economist Joseph Schumpeter observed: “The capitalist process, not by coincidence but by virtue of its mechanism, progressively raises the standard of life of the masses.”

For Schumpeter, entrepreneurs and the companies they found are the engines of wealth creation. This is what distinguishes capitalism from all previous forms of economic society and turned Marxism on its head, the parasitic capitalist becoming the innovative and beneficent entrepreneur. Since the 2008 crash, Schumpeter’s lessons have been overshadowed by Keynesian macroeconomics, in which the entrepreneurial function is reduced to a ghostly presence. As Schumpeter commented on John Maynard Keynes’s “General Theory” (1936), change–the outstanding feature of capitalism–was, in Keynes’s analysis, “assumed away.”

Progressive, ameliorative change is what poor people in poor countries need most of all. In “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty,” Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen and co-authors Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon return the entrepreneur and innovation to the center stage of economic development and prosperity. The authors overturn the current foreign-aid development paradigm of externally imposed, predominantly government funded capital- and institution-building programs and replace it with a model of entrepreneur-led innovation. “It may sound counterintuitive,” the authors write, but “enduring prosperity for many countries will not come from fixing poverty. It will come from investing in innovations that create new markets within these countries.” This is the paradox of the book’s title.

Continue reading “Innovative Entrepreneurs Bring Prosperity to the Poor”

Mitch Daniels Attempts Disruptive Innovation in Higher Ed

(p. A17) Last month’s announcement that Indiana’s Purdue University would acquire the for-profit Kaplan University shocked the world of higher education. The Purdue faculty are up in arms. The merger faces a series of regulatory obstacles. And it’s unclear whether the “New U,” as the entity is temporarily named, can be operationally viable or financially successful.
But Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, is willing to give it a shot.
The venture is unexpected, unconventional and smart. The nature of the partnership–in which Kaplan will transfer its assets to Purdue, a public university–is unprecedented. It’s also a rare instance of attempted self-disruption.
There are lessons here from the business world. In the seminal 1997 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” Harvard professor Clayton Christensen describes how leading companies can do everything “right” and still be thwarted by disruptive competitors. In an effort to appease stakeholders, leaders focus resources on activities that target current customers, promise higher profits, build prestige, and help them play in substantial markets. As Mr. Christensen observes, they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Meanwhile, a disruptive innovation is changing all the rules.
. . .
The higher-education industry, full of brilliant and competent leaders, is ripe for disruption. Despite mounting political pressure–not to mention the struggles of indebted alumni–most college presidents believe that their institutions are providing students with good value. By and large, they remain comfortable making small, marginal tweaks to their business models. In the meantime, college becomes ever more expensive.
In contrast, Mr. Daniels has a long history of bold, innovative moves.
. . .
Mr. Daniels is setting Purdue on the right course, for good reasons, and he deserves a great deal of credit. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For Purdue, the next thousand miles will consist of navigating regulatory approvals, winning the support of stakeholders, and, not least, the hard work of building New U. We can be hopeful, on behalf of those left behind by today’s higher education system, that Purdue treads a path that others can follow.

For the full commentary, see:
Alana Dunagan. “The Innovator’s Dilemma Hits Higher Ed; Purdue’s acquisition of Kaplan University is risky, unconventional, unexpected–and smart.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 16, 2017): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 15, 2017.)

Christensen books relevant to the passages quoted above, are:
Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business. New York: NY: Harper Books, 2000.
Christensen, Clayton M., and Henry J. Eyring. The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the inside Out. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Christensen, Clayton M., and Michael E. Raynor. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

Spreadsheets and Committees Are Enemies of Innovation

(p. B4) “As we became more sophisticated in quantifying things we became less and less willing to take risks,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst and fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank. “The spreadsheet is the weapon of mass destruction against creative power.”
The same could be said of university research, says Dr. Prabhakar. Research priorities are often decided by peer review, that is, a committee.
“It drives research to more incrementalism,” she says. “Committees are a great way to reduce risk, but not to take risk.”

For the full commentary, see:
CHRISTOPHER MIMS. “KEYWORDS; Engine of Innovation Loses Some Spark.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Nov. 21, 2016): B1 & B4.
(Note: the online version of the article has the date Nov. 20, 2016, and has the title “KEYWORDS; Is Engine of Innovation in Danger of Stalling?”)

Intuit Tries to Disrupt Itself

(p. B1) MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Three decades ago, at the dawn of the personal computer age, Intuit shook up the financial software world with its first product, Quicken. The program, which was centered on the simple notion of a virtual checkbook, suddenly made the PC a very useful tool for people to manage the chores of paying bills and tracking personal finances.
Last month, Intuit said goodbye to that heritage and sold Quicken, which still has loyal fans but weak growth prospects, to a private equity firm.
Intuit, a Silicon Valley company, is now focusing on its TurboTax software, which tens of millions of Americans use to file their tax returns, and on QuickBooks Online, an Internet-based version of the company’s flagship bookkeeping software for small businesses and their accounting firms.
Giving up Quicken was difficult, said Brad D. Smith, Intuit’s chief executive, during an interview at the company’s lush green campus here. The kitchen table where the founders designed the product in 1983 still sits in the cafeteria to inspire employees.
But Intuit decided to shed its PC roots and become a cloud software company. “We try to live up to being a 33-year-old start-up,” Mr. Smith said. So the company faced a hard choice: “Do we have this beautiful child that we’ve had for 33 years that we know we’re not going to feed, or do we find it a new home?”

For the full story, see:
VINDU GOEL. “Intuit Sheds PC Roots to Rise as Cloud Service.” The New York Times (Mon., APRIL 11, 2016): B1 & B5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 10, 2016, and has the title “Intuit Sheds Its PC Roots and Rises as a Cloud Software Company.”)