Prof. Clayton Christensen vs. Prof. Lepore. What is at stake? Innovation (disruption) misused or over-used?

Prof. Christensen, top ranked thinker in 2013 by, was attacked recently in a New Yorker article called “The Disruption Machine” by his colleague at Harvard – historian Jill Lepore.

She considers the theory of disruption presented by Prof. Christensen in the book
“Innovators Dilemma” is no more than “a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that.”

The arguments are: the case studies used by Prof. Christensen, considered to be subjectively picked, some side causes overlooked and their evolution wrongly presented; also she considers the theory fails to predict the future – “It makes a very poor prophet”- she says.

What is the point to criticize a book published in 1997 and followed by other books and articles improving it?

For sure, hitting Prof.Christensen is hitting the entire innovation concept, not only the disruptive innovation concept. Probably the innovation term is overused and sometimes not properly used and misunderstood, but the solution is not to attack the reality.

Innovation = progress and it will happen, we want it or not, and faster. The ones who are not prepared and taking action, will probably disappear or have to transform. This has happened to disrupted companies.

How will Prof. Christensen react? We still have to see. For the moment he just sent
some comments via a phone interview, the transcript being published here.


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