Book Review: The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

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The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen is a fantastic book about innovation and how entrepreneurs and start-ups should structure their businesses to compete with established incumbents. Disruptive technology is this book’s central subject.

Nonfiction books are my thing now. I’ve been on to books related to business, technology, and related stuff from the start of this year. While looking for another interesting book, I came across this one; fortunately, it didn’t kill my interest and excitement.

The author outlines what technologies are likely to disrupt, who is likely to be disrupted, why they are likely to be disrupted, and what options the established companies have when faced with disruption with the aid of several examples from the industry.

Now that you know the very basis of this book, you might want to explore more about it before you buy and read it. Don’t worry; I have more than what you requested below. Keep on reading to know more.

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen| Book Review

The Author

Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton M. Christensen Author of The Innovator's DNA and The Innovator's Dilemma

American professor and business consultant Clayton Magleby Christensen, born on April 6, 1952, created the “disruptive innovation” theory, dubbed the most important business concept of the early twenty-first century.

Christensen coined the term “disruption” in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma, which earned him the title of “the most important management thinker of his time”, according to The Economist.

He was a leader and author for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS) (LDS Church)—a pioneer of the Jobs to Be Done development approach.

Additionally, Christensen co-founded the venture capital firm Rose Park Advisors and the management consulting and investment company Innosight, which focuses on innovation.

Book Overview | The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen Cover Image

Full Title: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business

Author: Clayton M. Christensen

Genre: Technology

Publishing Date: 1997

Page Count: 286

Themes: Business, Technology, Leadership, Science


The Honda Super Cub, Intel’s 8088 CPU, and hydraulic excavators are just a few examples of “disruptive technologies,” Christensen explains why most businesses miss “the next great wave” by focusing on them. If managers need to know when to break with conventional business processes, successful companies with well-established goods will be passed over, whether in electronics or retail.

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” offers a set of guidelines for leveraging disruptive innovation phenomena by drawing on major corporations’ achievements and failures.

Book Summary | The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

Famous author Clayton M. Christensen’s best-selling classic on disruptive innovation. The most well-known thought leaders in the world, including Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Jobs, have cited his work. Innovation specialist Clayton Christensen demonstrates how even the most exceptional businesses may do everything right and still lose market leadership in this timeless bestseller, one of the most influential business books ever.

Christensen outlines why the majority of businesses miss out on emerging innovation waves. He asserts that a profitable business with well-established products will be pass over regardless of the industry unless managers know when and how to renounce conventional management methods.

The Innovator’s Dilemma provides you with a set of guidelines for taking advantage of the phenomenon of disruptive innovation by using both the successes and failures of top firms as examples.

The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book every manager, leader, or entrepreneur should have. It is intelligent, compelling, controversial, and constantly cited as one of the most valuable business ideas ever. CEOs and managers ought to study this clear and thought-provoking analysis of corporate failure.

It’s about something other than little or poorly run businesses; rather, it’s about reputable national and multinational firms that largely failed because they were customer-focused and followed all the correct procedures. In his article’s subtitle, “When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” the author clarifies this point.

Herein is the problem, as Dr Christensen discusses and investigates the concepts and problems of managing disruptive technology change and analyses why great firms fail.

Undoubtedly, ineptitude, arrogance, and bureaucracy deserve some blame, but the failure patterns are far deeper and more fundamental. 

My Takeaway From the Book

The Innovator's Dilemma Cover image
Source: Dr. Melissa Smith

In the book, disruptive technologies are contrasted with sustaining technologies. It is discussed why good, established businesses typically dominate and prosper with new sustaining technologies and frequently fail or are even replaced by them.

It demonstrates how these businesses can maximise their chances despite structural biases against it, given how an established business must allocate resources.

The main argument of the author of this book can be summarised (pretty much, in my view) in two points, i.e., Cannibalising the main, high cashflow/profit lines and initially producing modest revenues. But these technologies, which at first glance appear to serve a narrow market, completely cannibalise the industry, leaving the incumbent players high and dry without any new product lines.

What Did I Think of the Book?

One of those books that becomes a classic right away is this one. Soon after it’s released, everyone starts talking about it, and you start to believe that you already know most of what it has to say.

A discussion on technology hardly ever goes by without the word “disruptive” being used. It merits that response, and as is typically the case, there is much more to gain from reading the book than merely the portrayal in popular culture.


This book rightfully holds a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Conclusion| The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

So, what did you get to learn from this book? Let me summarise it. The main summary that can be derived from this book is that sometimes, the supply creates the demand. As the name suggests, the author in this book explores the “innovator’s dilemma’ and in the book The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth (its sequel), he offers several less persuasive options.

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

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