Christensen #2 – Disruptive Innovation and the Panda’s Thumb

Much of this lecture came from ‘The Innovator’s Solution‘ – a well judged (and marketed) follow up to Christensen’s seminal ‘Innovator’s Dilemma‘ book. The phrase Panda’s Thumb, btw, comes from Stephen Jay Gould, a brilliant evolutionary biologist who used the term to describe evolutionary hangovers (the appendix?) which cease to have a useful function.

Warming to the theme of metric-bashing, Clay suggested that financial metrics cause the Innovator’s Dilemma. It is hard to disagree with this given that profit margin is the explanatory factor in the story.

Going further though, Clay suggests that metrics can give rise to an emergent strategy (eg exiting a market) that sits in contrast to a more deliberate strategy focusing around

The Job to Be Done

(this is a central theme of  ‘The Innovator’s Solution‘). As Drucker pointed out,

The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him

By aligning the Brand with the Job, the company builds a more sustainable strategy. Concentrating on Product or Customer category however is (perhaps?) another example of the Panda’s Thumb.

Clay’s third example of the PAnda’s Thumb (investment) is really just another instiation of the first (metrics).

.. at this point we ran out of time, however there was an intriguing mention  of discovery driven planning (McGrath) which I thought would be a precursor of what we now call agile. It turns out to be more a ‘backwards’ approach (not an insult!) in which you start with the desired goal (“my product will get the job done”) and then surface the assumptions (“this is the job to be done”) necessary to achieve that goal.

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