Large Elephants Near Lake

Can elephants really dance?

Lou Gerstner named his book on the change of IBM from a hardware seller to a IT Service company: “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? “. He shows that large corporations can change dramatically their way of doing business in order to survive. I will argue in this post that IBM is the exception and not an example for a large corporation succeeding in disruptive technlogies. From my perspective, I can say that elephants (big corporations) cannot dance.

Actually, the change was not so dramatic for the customers of IBM. IBM served big corporations before and after the turnaround so it can be argued that the change was still a sustaining innovation.  Sustaining innovations are difficult to master but since they are supported by today’s customers the company can master the changes with good management.

In the case of disruptive innovations good management does not help to succeed. Good management is particularly one reason for failure. That sounds odd and even wrong but theoretical work by Clayton M. Christensen and my experience from consulting projects support this approach.

“Good management” is not good in all situations

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