Long-Term Survival and Growth

Question: Why do most businesses fail?

Christensen:    They lack business model innovation.  A business model itself really does have a finite life, and when the managers of that group focus all their resources on sustaining innovations that are commercialized within that business model and don’t catch these disruptive ones that make things more affordable and simple, almost always that’s the cause of failure.  Every disruption, disruptive innovation is a huge growth opportunity long before it becomes a threat.  And so, the real question is how can I be sure that I catch these new growth opportunities so that when it ultimately becomes a threat, it’s a very natural thing for me to shut the old down because the new has become so large.  Here’s a good way top visualize it.  At the beginning of every industry’s modern history, because the technology is so complicated and expensive, it centralizes the industry.  So, let me stay with computing because we’ve talked about that a bit.  When I was in college, I carried my slide rule everywhere, and whenever I landed into a problem of computation, I pulled out the slide rule and calculated the answer.  The advent of the mainframe computer centralized computing, so we had to take our problem to the solution in the form of a stack of [punch] cards and give it to an expert who then ran the job for us.  We could compute in a much more powerful way than was ever possible before but, man, was it expensive and inconvenient.  And so, that expense and inconvenience, in every industry’s history, then sets in motion a set of innovations that decentralized the solution again.  And so, the advent of what we call the mini computer, which were big boxes and sold for $250,000, decentralized computing a little bit.  As the mainframes were in the finance and data processing department, the mini computer put it in the engineering department.  And then, the personal computer put it in the home and the office.  The notebook put it in our briefcase, and now the handheld puts it in our purse and our pocket.  Every one of those waves of decentralizing the industry, bringing the solution back to the problem rather than forcing you to take the problem to the solution, created a huge new wave of growth.  And because the ones in the original core business, because the decentralized solution doesn’t appeal to their customers or their economic model, they got killed.  But you just have to watch whenever there’s an opportunity to decentralize, catch that wave with a new business model. 

The Harvard Business School professor on the right way to accelerate growth.

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less

Study: People will donate more to charity if they think something’s in it for them

A study on charity finds that reminding people how nice it feels to give yields better results than appealing to altruism.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Personal Growth
  • A study finds asking for donations by appealing to the donor's self-interest may result in more money than appealing to their better nature.
  • Those who received an appeal to self-interest were both more likely to give and gave more than those in the control group.
  • The effect was most pronounced for those who hadn't given before.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

160-million-year-old ‘Monkeydactyl’ was the first animal to develop opposable thumbs

The 'Monkeydactyl' was a flying reptile that evolved highly specialized adaptations in the Mesozoic Era.

Credit: Zhou et al.
Surprising Science
  • The 'Monkeydactly', or Kunpengopterus antipollicatus, was a species of pterosaur, a group of flying reptiles that were the first vertebrates to evolve the ability of powered flight.
  • In a recent study, a team of researchers used microcomputed tomography scanning to analyze the anatomy of the newly discovered species, finding that it was the first known species to develop opposable thumbs.
  • As highly specialized dinosaurs, pterosaurs boasted unusual anatomy that gave them special advantages as aerial predators in the Mesozoic Era.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast