Financial Data
Updated 29 Sep 2020

The innovator’s dilemma

Focusing on the present is not good enough. These days, every founder and CEO needs to be a futurist as well. 

GG van Rooyen, 04 June 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Disruption is a reality for every company, regardless of size or influence. Because of this, every business needs to keep a close eye on trends.

The bigger and more successful an organisation becomes, the more unlikely its demise seems. When a company is growing quickly and making money, a reversal in fortunes can seem all but impossible. But the fact of the matter is, things change quickly. Whatever your product or service is at the moment, it will probably look quite different 24 months from now.

Not that long ago, Nokia and Motorola were dominating the cellphone market. Xerox had an opportunity to be one of the first movers in the PC revolution, yet someone from the company infamously stated that “the computer will never be as important to society as the copier.”

Scandinavian company Facit dominated the calculator market with its flashy mechanical models, until digital pocket calculators from Japan came along and destroyed the company within six months.

Related: Steve Jobs helped Apple grow by doing less

There are countless examples of companies that were dominating their industries, only to be threatened by sudden disruption. And considering the current rate of innovation, it is a possibility that no company can ignore – not even tech behemoths such as Facebook and Google.

“The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks,” says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Harvard professor Clayton Christensen wrote a seminal book on the subject calledThe Innovator’s Dilemma. According to Christensen, many companies pay so much attention to current prospects that they fail to look to the future. This is a grave mistake. Even while exploiting current opportunities and improving productivity, companies need to innovate and prepare for the future. The only way to ensure long-term survival is to change along with demands and keep your offering fresh.


  • What will my industry look like five or ten years from now?
  • What does the longevity of my current offering look like?
  • How can my operations be disrupted?
  • What companies (even small ones) could potentially disrupt my business?
  • How is my company innovating and preparing for the future?
  • How can I disrupt my own operations to better prepare for the future?
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GG van Rooyen

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