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Review: The Disruption Dilemma

Review: The Disruption Dilemma

The Disruption Dilemma
The Disruption Dilemma by Joshua Gans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read Joshua Gans’ various blogs for many years now but never have I read any of his books; until now. The attraction to this book was the popular topic of disruption. Essentially Gans has authored a ‘Disruption 2.0’ book with an influence from Clayton Christensen’s classic book ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma.’ The Disruption Dilemma provides more of a peer reviewed journal approach to the topic of disruption with clear definitions, theories, citations and case studies.

One of the areas of this book I liked was the detailed definition and concept of disruption. It is a term loosely thrown around in the IT industry given the rapid pace of change. Fundamentally, if you do not keep up with change then you’re left in the dust! Gans delves into the concept of both supply and demand disruption and illustrates this with many case studies (e.g. Apple, Ford, New York Times etc.). As Henry Ford said years ago …. “if I had asked my customers what they had wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

Suffice to say this is well worth the read if you want to get your head around disruption and what you can do to understand as well as mitigate the risk.

Three key takeaways from the book:
1. Disruption is associated with a new technological opportunity (known as a disruptive event) in which the incumbent may or may not take advantage of it. The failure of not being able to take advantage and not being able to recover is essentially when disruption actually occurs.
2. Disruption theory tells us, at a minimum, that a company doubling down may be a bad idea. By contrast, the replacement effect suggests that ‘doubling up’ is a hard thing to do.
3. Typically uncertainty occurs over whether an event is, in fact, disruptive, which gives rise to the dilemma facing established firms.

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