Monday, April 24, 2006


Innovation within large enterprises

One of my coworkers is always mentioning Clayton Christensen and he asked me to use my blog to help him find candidates for some positions he is having a hard time filling. Figured some background was necessary before I jumped into the details...

Clayton Christensen proposed that there are two major types of technologies, the usual sustaining technology and the less usual disruptive technology. A sustaining technology is basically one that makes doing-what-we're-already-doing cheaper, or better in some way that the existing market desires. A disruptive technology is one that is proportionally more expensive, doesn't work much better, and basically is not desired by the existing market. However, the disruptive technology also has other qualities that make it desirable in some way to a small minority market. Disruptive technologies become disruptive when they have been improved to the point where they now compete adequately, not with the existing technologies, but with what the market desires which is often considerably less than what the existing technology is capable of providing.

The vast majority of conversations with industry analysts with the exception of the folks at Redmonk tend to be about sustaining technology. Agile Manifesto and all the methodologies that adhere to it (FYI open source is an agile methodology) can be categorized as being disruptive according to Christensen as they displace traditional ceremonial hierarchical development methodologies.

Agile methods are disruptive in that they don't permit the illusion of management (distinct from leadership) control. The problem with agile methods is that the "customers" of agile are management and therefore the cost to adopt is higher. Management (distinct from leadership) in most but not all IT shops are currently getting it twisted by focusing on maximum control over deeply technical decisions in which they don't know anything about. Maybe the notion of strong technical leadership within enterprises will also become disruptive over the next several years...

I was going to put the HR description of the positions he was looking to fill here, but we all know how much insight that would provide...Here are characteristics of the right individual to fill his job openings:

If you are interested or know of others, leave a comment...

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