Are Facebook and Google truly innovative companies?

HarvardDisruptive Innovation Explained

Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and the world’s most influential management guru according to the Thinkers50, lays out his landmark theory.

The Masters of Innovation (extract of 6 from 12) – article by Scott Anthony, HBR

Who he is Most important Innovation lesson
Clayton Christensen -Harvard Business School professor and Innosight co-founder Doing everything right can leave a successful organization susceptible to attack from a disruptive innovator who changes the game with a simple, accessible, or affordable solution.
Steve Blank – lecturer at Berkeley and Stanford A startup is a “temporary organization searching for a repeatable and scalable business model”—a structured search process maximizes your chances of success.
Richard N. Foster -McKinsey’s leading light on innovation for two decades To outperform the market, you have to change at the pace and scale of the market, without losing control.
A.G. Lafley – Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Procter & Gamble Innovation is a process that can be managed and measured; the key to successful innovation is a “consumer is boss” mindset.
Michael Mauboussin -Chief Investment Strategist, Legg Mason Breakthrough insight can come from applying lessons from nonobvious fields to your problem.
Joseph Schumpeter – Austrian economist “The problem that is usually being visualized is how capitalism administers existing structures, whereas the relevant problem is how it creates and destroys them”; sometimes you have to destroy in order to create.


Economist – Annual Innovation winners (3 from 8)

“One of the chief ways in which intelligence presses forward is through innovation, which is now recognised as one of the most important contributors to economic growth. Innovation, in turn, depends on the creative individuals who dream up new ideas and turn them into reality.

  • Computing and telecommunications: Jack Dangermond, president of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) and John Hanke, vice-president of product management at Google, for pioneering and popularising the use of geographical information systems, otherwise known as computerised maps such as Google Earth.
  • Process and service innovationMarc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of, for pioneering web-hosted enterprise software under a “software as a service” model. Instead of installing software, users simply access it through a web browser.
  •  Corporate use of innovation: Google. From its origins as a search engine, it has become an innovative leader in many other areas including online advertising, web-based e-mail, online maps and mobile-phone operating systems”.

Is Facebook a truly innovative organisation

Clayton Christensen considers whether Facebook and Google are truly innovative companies, at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Innovation 2012 event in Berkeley, California.

Economist, Technology Quarterly

“The tech world is changing so fast that it brings to mind Joseph Schumpeter’s comment about the “perennial gale of creative destruction” that sweeps through economies as innovative insurgents take on entrenched incumbents”.

WDGLL specs

So the benchmark of a truly innovative company is the ability to create new business models in response to threats and opportunities.

Both Forbes and Christensen mention Intuit and their “Lean StartIn” events which bring together small teams of employees who participate in intense two-day brainstorming sessions and create startup-like ideas for products.  The typical conversion rate of idea to product is 10% at Intuit.

Seeing What’s Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change by Clayton M. Christensen (Author), Scott D. Anthony (Author), Erik A. Roth (Author).


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