Yesterday during my commute I listened to a presentation that Clayton Christensen did at the 2004 Open Source Business Conference called Open Source: Capturing the Upside While Avoiding the Downside that was published at ITConversations. Its basically a two hour presentation on the theories published in his books The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution, which attempts to explain why at a certain point in a companies life, good management can tank the company and how managers can continue creating growth companies by using the theory of disruption to figure out their strategies.
The first book goes into great detail into explaining his theory of “disruption”, using the floppy disk drive industry, PC industry, and steel industry for concrete examples of disruptive technologies and the conditions in which these technologies are introduced so that they can begin to take a market while not being noticed or cared about by the incumbents in the market.
The books are fascinating, and the keynote mentioned above is an excellent 2 hour audio primer on the content of the books. I was riveted to the presentation in the car as Christensen presents, in very simple yet effective terms, his theory and provides examples of situations in which the theory has applied.
An added bonus in the two hour presentation, since it is at an open source convention, is the explanation of how open source fits into the model of disruption, with contributions from people such as Tim O’Reilly and one employee from MySQL.
The most interesting thing I got out of this presentation was the explanation of commodization and decommodization, as it is explained in terms that I finally get. I had a hard time with these areas in the book, which could be because I was attempting to read multiple books at the same time, or just that I didn’t get it in print. The explanation of these concepts made complete sense as they were explained verbally and I found this section quite enlightening, especially when applying them to things I am seeing in certain areas around my professional life.
I would highly recommend that those in management, especially those responsible for defining strategy for the organization, grab this podcast and give it a listen. The concepts involved are quite interesting and general enough that you can apply them to your professional life. This was probably the most beneficial two hours I’ve spent commuting to work. The content was good enough that I did not even mind the drive.