walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Clayton Christensen appearing on Bloomberg reminds me that he exists and annoys me

The biggest problem with Christensen is that some of his ideas are really interesting, useful, important and unusual. This makes him, if not sui generis in b-school types, at least a rara avis. So when I am reminded that he exists, I feel like I ought to hear him out, which then annoys me, partly because he's Mormon, partly because he has the most amazingly blinkered perspective on the world, and partly because he keeps buying those interesting, useful, important and unusual ideas under all the rest of that shit.

He apparently had a stroke, lost a bunch of language and regained it with RS (but that is _not_ how I stumbled across this: I really was watching Bloomberg and it was the least productive interview I've ever seen on that channel. No exceptions). In an effort to figure out what he's really on about these days, I found this piece in Wired from last month:

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/02/mf-clayton-christensen-wants-to-transform-capitalism/all/

Christensen is correct in noting that there's a lot of capital that is idle and/or not being deployed in longer-term efforts. He does not mention in this piece, vs. in the Bloomberg interview, his belief that disruptive innovations create big change that then result in more jobs -- an aspect of his whole approach to thinking about innovation that I would find funny except _he really fucking believes it_. He is _that_ kind of nutball (duh, he's Mormon and thinks he was raised to ask questions, as opposed to understanding that he was raised to be comfortable with multiple paradoxical and ludicrous beliefs that many people around him do not hold -- which is actually tremendously useful if you're going to disrupt an academic field).

I imagine you could find a disruptive innovation that initially created more jobs than it destroyed, but they are pretty rare. Generally speaking, the "additional" jobs are the duplicative ones (that is, the old way of doing things takes a while to go away and its jobs with it), altho whenever a disruptive innovation creates entirely new economic activity (read: consumption? somewhere, anyway) it can create jobs (altho trying to calculate the net effect of horses vs. cars on jobs, say, is a really non-trivial exercise, never mind calculating how many jobs in digital photographic processing were created to compensate for the lost of all those while-u-wait photo development kiosks).

He thinks that "journalism ... and publishing broadly. Anything supported by advertising. That all of this is being disrupted is now beyond question. And then I think education is just on the edge of the crevasse. Generally, universities are doing very well financially, so they don't feel from the data that their world is going to collapse. But I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble."

I see one item to disagree with in this assessment: I think five years sounds like a real short time frame -- but I could be wrong, so I'm going to try to remember to check this one (and likely fail -- I'm still struggling with tickler reminders more than a year out).

I think that he formulated what I think of as the p-disruption (p for physical but often paper) as journalism/publishing/supported by advertising says a lot about how he sees (and fails to see) the world. And I honestly cannot believe he didn't say a damn thing about the massive disruption in retail over the last decade-ish. Does he think it somehow is over?

Also, poor IT departments. That's some _serious_ disruption.

The Bloomberg interview was frustrating because the interviewer brought up Amazon, but said, but you have to make money! And Christensen just emitted his placeholder "You're exactly right" and went back to something else, rather than pointing out that complaining about "failing to make money" by choosing to re-invest it in the business is _exactly_ the kind of capitalist behavior he thinks the tax code should be modified to incentivize.

I'm going to quit thinking about this. It's too irritating.
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