Quotes from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

Clayton M. Christensen ·  304 pages

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“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Necessity remains the mother of invention.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“cost reductions meant survival, but not profitability,”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Much of the ability to create and maintain valuable brands, as a consequence, has migrated away from the product and to the channel because, for the present, it is the channel that addresses the piece of added value that is not yet good enough.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Focus is scary—until you realize that it only means turning your back on markets you could never have anyway. Sharp focus on jobs that customers are trying to get done holds the promise of greatly improving the odds of success in new-product development.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth



“Disruptive innovations, in contrast, don’t attempt to bring better products to established customers in existing markets. Rather, they disrupt and redefine that trajectory by introducing products and services that are not as good as currently available products. But disruptive technologies offer other benefits—typically, they are simpler, more convenient, and less expensive products that appeal to new or less-demanding customers.3”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“the breakthrough researcher first discovers the fundamental causal mechanism behind the phenomena of success. This allows those who are looking for “an answer” to get beyond the wings-and-feathers mind-set of copying the attributes of successful companies.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Research suggests that in over 90 percent of all successful new businesses, historically, the strategy that the founders had deliberately decided to pursue was not the strategy that ultimately led to the business’s success.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than doing what you think you’re good at. And”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“the innovator’s dilemma: Should we invest to protect the least profitable end of our business, so that we can retain our least loyal, most price-sensitive customers? Or should we invest to strengthen our position in the most profitable tiers of our business, with customers who reward us with premium prices for better products?”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth



“Consider, for example, IBM’s decision to outsource the microprocessor for its PC business to Intel, and its operating system to Microsoft. IBM made these decisions in the early 1980s in order to focus on what it did best—designing, assembling, and marketing computer systems. Given its history, these choices made perfect sense. Component suppliers to IBM historically had lived a miserable, profit-free existence, and the business press widely praised IBM’s decision to out-source these components of its PC. It dramatically reduced the cost and time required for development and launch. And yet in the process of outsourcing what it did not perceive to be core to the new business, IBM put into business the two companies that subsequently captured most of the profit in the industry. How could IBM have known in advance that such a sensible decision would prove so costly? More broadly, how can any executive who is launching a new-growth business, as IBM was doing with its PC division in the early 1980s, know which value-added activities are those in which future competence needs to be mastered and kept inside? 2”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“when people encounter a significant threat, a response called “threat rigidity” sets in. The instinct of threat rigidity is to cease being flexible and to become “command and control” oriented—to focus everything on countering the threat in order to survive.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Probably the most daunting challenge in delivering growth is that if you fail once to deliver it, the odds that you ever will be able to deliver in the future are very low.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Research suggests that in over 90 percent of all successful new businesses, historically, the strategy that the founders had deliberately decided to pursue was not the strategy that ultimately led to the business’s success.12 Entrepreneurs rarely get their strategies exactly right the first time. The successful ones make it because they have money left over to try again after they learn that their initial strategy was flawed, whereas the failed ones typically have spent their resources implementing a deliberate strategy before its viability could be known. One of the most important roles of senior management during a venture’s early years is to learn from emergent sources what is working and what is not, and then to cycle that learning back into the process through the deliberate channel.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“They are always motivated to go up-market, and almost never motivated to defend the new or low-end markets that the disruptors find attractive. We call this phenomenon asymmetric motivation. It is the core of the innovator’s dilemma, and the beginning of the innovator’s solution.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth



“innovator’s dilemma: Should we invest to protect the least profitable end of our business, so that we can retain our least loyal, most price-sensitive customers? Or should we invest to strengthen our position in the most profitable tiers of our business, with customers who reward us with premium prices for better products?”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“When the corporation’s investment capital becomes impatient for growth, good money becomes bad money because it triggers a subsequent cascade of inevitable incorrect decisions. Innovators who seek funding for the disruptive innovations that could ultimately fuel the company’s growth with a high probability of success now find that their trial balloons get shot down because they can’t get big enough fast enough. Managers of most disruptive businesses can’t credibly project that the business will become very big very fast, because new-market disruptions need to compete against nonconsumption and must follow an emergent strategy process. Compelling them to project big numbers forces them to declare a strategy that confidently crams the innovation into a large, existing, and obvious market whose size can be statistically substantiated. This means competing against consumption.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Predictable marketing requires an understanding of the circumstances in which customers buy or use things. Specifically, customers—people and companies—have “jobs” that arise regularly and need to get done. When customers become aware of a job that they need to get done in their lives, they look around for a product or service that they can “hire” to get the job done.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Low-end disruption has occurred several times in retailing.16 For example, full-service department stores had a business model that enabled them to turn inventories three times per year. They needed to earn 40 percent gross margins to make money within their cost structure. They therefore earned 40 percent three times each year, for a 120 percent annual return on capital invested in inventory (ROCII). In the 1960s, discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Kmart attacked the low end of the department stores’ market—nationally branded hard goods such as paint, hardware, kitchen utensils, toys, and sporting goods—that were so familiar in use that they could sell themselves. Customers in this tier of the market were overserved by department stores, in that they did not need well-trained floor sales-people to help them get what they needed. The discounters’ business model enabled them to make money at gross margins of about 23 percent, on average. Their stocking policies and operating processes enabled them to turn inventories more than five times annually, so that they also earned about 120 percent annual ROCII. The discounters did not accept lower levels of profitability—their business model simply earned acceptable profit through a different formula.17”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Core competence, as it is used by many managers, is a dangerously inward-looking notion. Competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than doing what you think you’re good at. And staying competitive as the basis of competition shifts necessarily requires a willingness and ability to learn new things rather than clinging hopefully to the sources of past glory. The challenge for incumbent companies is to rebuild their ships while at sea, rather than dismantling themselves plank by plank while someone else builds a new, faster boat with what they cast overboard as detritus.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth



“The functional, emotional, and social dimensions of the jobs that customers need to get done constitute the circumstances in which they buy. In other words, the jobs that customers are trying to get done or the outcomes that they are trying to achieve constitute a circumstance-based categorization of markets.3 Companies that target their products at the circumstances in which customers find themselves, rather than at the customers themselves, are those that can launch predictably successful products. Put another way, the critical unit of analysis is the circumstance and not the customer.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“a jobs-to-be-done lens can help innovators come to market with an initial product that is much closer to what customers ultimately will discover that they value. The way to get as close as possible to this target is to develop hypotheses by carefully observing what people seem to be trying to achieve for themselves, and then to ask them about it.9”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Probably the most daunting challenge in delivering growth is that if you fail once to deliver it, the odds that you ever will be able to deliver in the future are very low. This is the conclusion of a remarkable study, Stall Points, that the Corporate Strategy Board published in 1998.8 It examined the 172 companies that had spent time on Fortune’s list of the 50 largest companies between 1955 and 1995. Only 5 percent of these companies were able to sustain a real, inflation-adjusted growth rate of more than 6 percent across their entire tenure in this group. The other 95 percent reached a point at which their growth simply stalled, to rates at or below the rate of growth of the gross national product (GNP). Stalling is understandable, given our expectations that all growth markets become saturated and mature. What is scary is that of all these companies whose growth had stalled, only 4 percent were able to successfully reignite their growth even to a rate of 1 percent above GNP growth. Once growth had stalled, in other words, it proved nearly impossible to restart it.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Study after study, however, concludes that about 90 percent of all publicly traded companies have proved themselves unable to sustain for more than a few years a growth trajectory that creates above-average shareholder returns.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“We could cite many cases of companies’ similar attempts to create new-growth platforms after the core business had matured. They follow an all-too-similar pattern. When the core business approaches maturity and investors demand new growth, executives develop seemingly sensible strategies to generate it. Although they invest aggressively, their plans fail to create the needed growth fast enough; investors hammer the stock; management is sacked; and Wall Street rewards the new executive team for simply restoring the status quo ante: a profitable but low-growth core business.4”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth



“The structures and initial conditions that are required for successful growth are enumerated in the chapters of this book. They include starting with a cost structure in which attractive profits can be earned at low price points and which can then be carried up-market; being in a disruptive position relative to competitors so that they are motivated to flee rather than fight; starting with a set of customers who had been nonconsumers so that they are pleased with modest products; targeting a job that customers are trying to get done; skating to where the money will be, not to where it was; assigning managers who have taken the right courses in the school of experience and putting them to work within processes and organizational values that are attuned to what needs to be done; having the flexibility to respond as a viable strategy emerges; and starting with capital that can be patient for growth. If you start in conditions such as these, you do not need to see deeply into the future. Attractive choices that lead to success will present themselves. It is when you start in conditions that are opposite to these that attractive options may not appear, and the right choices will be difficult to make.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“Identifying disruptive footholds means connecting with specific jobs that people—your future customers—are trying to get done in their lives.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


“A new-market disruption is an innovation that enables a larger population of people who previously lacked the money or skill now to begin buying and using a product and doing the job for themselves.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, quote from The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth


About the author

Clayton M. Christensen
Born place: in Salt Lake City, UT, The United States
Born date April 6, 1952
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