The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
The innovator's solution is a hard book for me to review. At times, I felt this was one of the best books I've ever read, but at other times I would have wanted to throw it away. That's also how I ended up giving it a 3 star review. It's a good book, but I wouldn't recommend it quickly.
As the title suggests, the book is a follow-up on the Innovator's Dilemma, which has been a classic business book on how large established companies are surprised by disruptive technology that eventually causes the downfall of the company. The Innovator's Dilemma explained these dynamics and how they happen even when managers in companies make the most "logical" decisions. The Innovator's Solution dives further into this dynamic and tries to answer the question "what can you do about it?" and especially, "How could you sustainably cause disruptive technology".
The book is wonderful and insightful about the meta-level dynamics between and inside companies. There are probably few books that describe these dynamics so well. The book is admittedly theoretical in the way that the authors present a theory and describe how, according to their theory, you could build companies that constantly create disruption... yet admit that no company in the world has ever done that. It is traditional in the sense that most of the organizational dynamics they describe are assuming fairly traditional and hierarchical organizations... evidence from the focus on the role of the CEO. I guess this is a fair assumption still in 2012 as most organizations still do work that way... but on the other hand there are signs that this is changing. I felt some examples from the book were wrong at times or at least showed that the authors aren't that technical. Especially examples related to software, computers or related to Apple and phones seemed off. This annoyed me at times leading me to put the book down for a while, only to resume again a bit later.
The book contains ten chapters and an epilogue. Roughly the first six chapters talk about market dynamics and how companies react and the last three chapters talk about what you can do within your companies. The epilogue is a summary and suggested "actions" chapter.
In the first part, the authors explain that decisions need to be based on a theory and that they are going to attempt, in the rest of the book, to present a theory for making decisions. This theory ought to help companies make better decisions related to products. The authors go on to show how existing marketing techniques often segment incorrect and they ought to focus on "job to be done" rather than different characteristics (a theme that will repeat itself throughout the book). It then describes two different disruptive technologies: 1) low-end, and 2) new market. Then explains the type of customers and scope to focus on. Chapter 5 and the talk about modularization vs integration felt a bit old-fashioned, and especially not that relevant with the increase of software development in the world. Chapter 6 talked about a wonderful market dynamic related to commodization.
The second part makes things a bit more concrete and talks about what you can do within your organization. First it covers organizational structure, then two different strategy processes and how good companies switch between them. Then it has an interesting look at the financial support behind product development and distinguishes "good money" from "bad money" and suggests to focus on "good money" that is "patient for growth but impatient for profit". I loved the organizational dynamics that it described of how organizations invest in disruptive technologies but then cannibalize them when there is a downturn on their main business. The last chapter focuses on the role of the CEO in companies that are trying to create disruption.
I did like the Innovator's Solution at times and have no regret reading it. Certain snippets of it were very very insightful which makes the whole book worth reading. Yet at times I felt bored with it and sometimes even strongly that certain examples were simplistic. Also the traditional management and traditional organization assumptions it had made me feel uncomfortable. Due to all of that, I decided on three Amazon stars.