CLAY CHRISTENSEN: Jeff Bezos, Scott Cook, And Steve Jobs Got Disruption Right; “Data is heavy. People want to solve problems and tell their bosses they solved it, not bring them issues all the time. As a result, the higher you get, the less real information you receive

CLAY CHRISTENSEN: Jeff Bezos, Scott Cook, And Steve Jobs Got Disruption Right

Max Nisen | Mar. 11, 2013, 6:31 PM | 1,255 | 1

It’s been some 16 years since Clay Christensen published “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and brought the concept of disruptive innovation to the wider world. Despite that, many companies and executives still haven’t managed to take its core lesson to heart, that it’s not enough to just look at the data. You have to constantly ask questions and look to the future. In an interview appearing at strategy+business, Christensen argues that many executives are pushed to make decisions that are quick and profitable, and they frequently rely heavily on incomplete data. “Data is heavy,” Christensen says. People want to solve problems and tell their bosses they solved it, not bring them issues all the time. As a result, the higher you get, the less real information you receive.

The most successful executives think about why things might turn out differently, have a theory, and constantly update it. Few people are good at that. They don’t ask the right questions, and they aren’t paranoid enough. When asked which executives thought about disruption the right way, Christensen cited ex-Intel CEO and co-founder Andy Grove and his response to inexpensive laptops. As for more recent examples, Christensen had three:

“Of the managers I’ve known, I think Scott Cook, who is the founder of Intuit, is most prone to think this way. I also think of Steve Jobs and Jeff BezosAmazon has launched three really important disruptors: online retailing, the disruption of publishing, and the cloud services that give everyone access to sophisticated IT technology. But you have to hope that this approach is institutionalized at Amazon, and not dependent on the instincts of one person.”

That last piece of the equation is particularly important. After Grove left, the leaders who succeeded him failed to anticipate the explosion of mobile devices. It’s worth noting that Apple’s been struggling lately under Steve Jobs’ successor, Tim Cook. That’s because Apple’s being attacked with the same technique that it used on RIM to dominate the smartphone market, Christensen says. RIM was an incredibly closed system, Apple was much more modular, and the iPhone and its successors nearly killed the Blackberry. Now the much more open Android system is causing Apple problems. Christensen’s advice to executives and managers looking to emulate these three? Ask good questions. When it comes to disruption, ask which competitors threaten you, as well as which ones you’re likely to threaten. For long-term strategy, ask what job you’re trying to do, and make sure you don’t get away from it. Most importantly, challenge your assumptions. Just because you’ve been operating successfully or measuring yourself one way for years doesn’t mean you aren’t entirely wrong and ripe for disruption.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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