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Leading for Innovation: And Organizing for Results by Iain Somerville, Marshall Goldsmith, Frances Hesselbein

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17.2. The Capabilities to Address Sustaining or Disruptive Technologies

One of the most important findings in the research summarized in my 1997 book, The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, relates to the differences in companies' track records at making effective use of sustaining and disruptive technologies. Sustaining technologies are innovations that make a product or service better along the dimensions of performance valued by customers in the mainstream market. Compaq's early use of Intel's thirty-two-bit 386 microprocessor instead of the sixteen-bit 286 chip was an example of a sustaining innovation. So was Merrill Lynch's introduction of its cash management account.

Disruptive innovations, in contrast, ...

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