2021 | Week 10

There is a series of three lectures by Clayton Christensen which he delivered at Said Business School a few years ago. In the first one, unsurprisingly, he discusses the theory he is best known for: disruptive innovation. The second talks about management and the panda’s thumb – practices which were developed because they may have had some perceived value in the past, but are now not only without much use but probably hinder the work. It’s the third one which I found most interesting: he discusses the methodology he employs for developing a theory, something which he had done with disruptive innovation. 

There are many ideas he throws at us in these lectures, and I don’t intend to discuss all of them. Anyone interested enough can view them; I highly recommend it. It is the disdain that he expressed for some management practices which stood out for me. Specially when it comes to measurement in terms of ratios like RONA and IRR, the way they inhibit innovation and the fundamental question of how they came into existence in the first place. 

Measuring commercial value is still relatively easy but when it comes to measuring impact, it feels like the industry has made it way too complicated. Too many frameworks have been developed, there is no agreement on the benchmarks, different funding agencies will ask for impact reporting in different ways – all of which puts too much strain on a social organisation limited for resources. While I have always felt that impact measurement is important, we need to remember that it isn’t the actual work that’s meant to be done and it shouldn’t get in the way either. 

Related readings

The first of the lectures can be seen here. Links to the remaining two are in the video description.