Episode 008: Debating Disruption

In this episode we take on the validity of Disruption Theory in three parts:

  1. A discussion of Jill Lepore’s New Yorker article attacking disruption, as well as the debate that surrounded the article
  2. Ben’s article from last fall “What Clayton Christensen Got Wrong”
  3. A deeper discussion about whether or not managers can really do anything about true disruption, and whether or not they should even try

The quote referenced at the ending from Jill Lepore’s article on political polarization is as follows:

“But intellectuals, as Bruno Latour once pointed out, are nearly always one critique too late: “entire Ph.D. programs are still running to make sure that good American kids are learning the hard way that facts are made up, that there is no such thing as natural, unmediated, unbiased access to truth, that we are always prisoners of language, that we always speak from a particular standpoint, and so on, while dangerous extremists are using the very same argument of social construction to destroy hard-won evidence that could save our lives.”

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  • Jill Lepore: The Disruption Machine – The New Yorker
  • Jill Lepore: Long Division – The New Yorker
  • Larissa MacFarquhar: When Giants Fall. What business has learned from Clayton Christensen – The New Yorker
  • Ben Thompson: Obsoletive – Stratechery
  • Ben Thompson: What Clayton Christensen Got Wrong – Stratechery
  • Clayton Christensen: The Innovator’s Solution – Kindle
  • Phil Rosenzweig: The Halo Effect – Kindle


Podcast Information

3 thoughts on “Episode 008: Debating Disruption

  1. Disruption Theory is overly promoted and has attracted people who misrepresent it and believe in it blindly. Doesn’t that happen to every concept that enters the mainstream?

    Over the past decades I have spent a lot of time reading about computers and technology. These days so much of what is called tech coverage is lifestyle and gossip based. It’s inevitable that disruption theory becomes a fad for some, a cause for others, and basically a fashion item for those looking to impress. I think it is a useful tool – misunderstood and misused by many, but still useful.

    Debating where it is useful and where it isn’t is not all that constructive. Proposing alternatives that better explain what is going on is constructive.

    “What happened to Blackberry and Nokia?” It turns out that cell phones and early PDAs are poor approximations of what people find useful to carry around in their pocket or bag. Nobody knew that until a much better approximation showed up. Blackberry, Nokia, Palm, and many others couldn’t adapt and lost out. Why does it have to be any more complicated than that?

    “It may be better for the world / the market / shareholders to let Blockbuster / Hotels keep doing what they do until they die instead of having them try to change.” That is a statement waiting for a theory to back it up. Somebody should write a book about it. Jurassic Theory? Don’t mess with the Dinosaurs! 🙂

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