The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton ChristensenChristensen explores how seemingly robust corporations can be felled by innovative smaller companies. Which seems analogous to watching healthy people die while noticing some babies growing, and concluding that these newborns are killing people.
The study of management pathology remains young. While we can (usually) tell when a company has died, our identification of the cause of death comes across as no better than "major organs stopped working" ( 1] customers up and left, 2] gov't closed firm). With balanced scorecards, we are beginning to collect objective monitoring data on companies, however, as physicians, we have not yet created a community repository of patient histories.
Maybe we have killer babies on the loose, maybe we don't. Say you're a small nation and you want to make killer babies. How do you know you're actually making killer babies? Say you succeed, do you now have other problems?
Despite the failings, I still enjoyed reading this book as it afforded plenty of opportunity to view the material from different perspectives. E.g., everywhere he says "successful company", "customers", and "small, innovative company"; replace that with "you", "your employer", and "your replacement", respectively. The book (unintentionally) has plenty to mull over.
Companies stumble for many reasons, of course
- Companies depend on customers and investors for resources
- Small markets don't solve the growth needs of larger companies
- Markets that don't exist can't be analyzed
- Technology supply may not equal market demand