Quotees Archive

They must be plans for learning rather than plans for implementation.

- Clayton M. Christensen

This is one of the innovator’s dilemmas: Blindly following the maxim that good managers should keep close to their customers can sometimes be a fatal mistake.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Three classes of factors affect what an organization can and cannot do: its resources, its processes, and its values.

- Clayton M. Christensen

To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training, and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building, and preparing the right organization for the job as well.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Watching how customers actually use a product provides much more reliable information than can be gleaned from a verbal interview or a focus group.

- Clayton M. Christensen

What this implies at a deeper level is that many of what are now widely accepted principles of good management are, in fact, only situationally appropriate. There are times at which it is right not to listen to customers, right to invest in developing lower-performance products that promise lower margins, and right to aggressively pursue small, rather than substantial, markets.

- Clayton M. Christensen

When commercializing disruptive technologies, they found or developed new markets that valued the attributes of the disruptive products, rather than search for a technological breakthrough so that the disruptive product could compete as a sustaining technology in mainstream markets.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Will flash cards invade the disk drive makers’ core markets and supplant magnetic memory? If they do, what will happen to the disk drive makers? Will they stay atop their markets, catching this new technological wave? Or will they be driven out?

- Clayton M. Christensen

Does that mean that we should never hire or promote an inexperienced manager who had not already learned to do what needs to be done in this assignment? The answer: it depends. In a start-up company where there are no processes in place to get things done, then everything that is done must be done by individual people–resources. In this circumstance, it would be risky to draft someone with no experience to do the job–because in the absence of processes that can guide people, experienced people need to lead. But in established companies where much of the guidance to employees is provided by processes, and is less dependent upon managers with detailed, hands-on experience, then it makes sense to hire or promote someone who needs to learn from experience.

- Clayton M. Christensen

In a start-up company where there are no processes in place to get things done, then everything that is done must be done by individual people–resources. In this circumstance, it would be risky to draft someone with no experience to do the job–because in the absence of processes that can guide people, experienced people need to lead. But in established companies where much of the guidance to employees is provided by processes, and is less dependent upon managers with detailed, hands-on experience, then it makes sense to hire or promote someone who needs to learn from experience.

- Clayton M. Christensen

In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Most people have never thought through how they’re going to allocate their time. You need to make a decision in advance.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Sound managerial decisions are at the very root of their impending fall from industry leadership.

- Clayton M. Christensen

The patterns of success and failure we see among firms faced with sustaining and disruptive technology change are a natural or systematic result of good managerial decisions. That is, in fact, why disruptive technologies confront innovators with such a dilemma. Working harder, being smarter, investing more aggressively, and listening more astutely to customers are all solutions to the problems posed by new sustaining technologies. But these paradigms of sound management are useless—even counterproductive, in many instances—when dealing with disruptive technology.

- Clayton M. Christensen

The reason is that good management itself was the root cause. Managers played the game the way it was supposed to be played. The very decision-making and resource-allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies: listening carefully to customers; tracking competitors’ actions carefully; and investing resources to design and build higher-performance, higher-quality products that will yield greater profit. These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technological change.

- Clayton M. Christensen

The techniques that worked so extraordinarily well when applied to sustaining technologies, however, clearly failed badly when applied to markets or applications that did not yet exist.

- Clayton M. Christensen

An organization’s capabilities reside in two places. The first is in its processes—the methods by which people have learned to transform inputs of labor, energy, materials, information, cash, and technology into outputs of higher value. The second is in the organization’s values, which are the criteria that managers and employees in the organization use when making prioritization decisions. People are quite flexible, in that they can be trained to succeed at quite different things. An employee of IBM, for example, can quite readily change the way he or she works, in order to work successfully in a small start-up company. But processes and values are not flexible. A process that is effective at managing the design of a minicomputer, for example, would be ineffective at managing the design of a desktop personal computer. Similarly, values that cause employees to prioritize projects to develop high-margin products, cannot simultaneously accord priority to low-margin products. The very processes and values that constitute an organization’s capabilities in one context, define its disabilities in another context.

- Clayton M. Christensen

At its zenith Sears accounted for more than 2 percent of all retail sales in the United States. It pioneered several innovations critical to the success of today’s most admired retailers: for example, supply chain management, store brands, catalogue retailing, and credit card sales. The esteem in which Sears’ management was held shows in this 1964 excerpt from Fortune: “How did Sears do it? In a way, the most arresting aspect of its story is that there was no gimmick. Sears opened no big bag of tricks, shot off no skyrockets. Instead, it looked as though everybody in its organization simply did the right thing, easily and naturally. And their cumulative effect was to create an extraordinary powerhouse of a company.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.

- Clayton M. Christensen

Disruptive technology should be framed as a marketing challenge, not a technological one.

- Clayton M. Christensen

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