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"Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation" - a Book Review

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"Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation" - a Book Review

Dec 02, 2014  

by Rustin Diehl

Organizations wishing to survive and thrive in today’s hypercompetitive markets should learn the lessons in the 2014 book Big Bang Disruption.  As the authors boldly proclaim, “Waiting for the market to take off and hoping to be a fast follower is now a recipe for irrelevance.”
 
Big Bang Disruption shows how innovations released in today's super-connected, cheap and convenient digital business environment can have a sudden and devastating impact on existing businesses and organizations.  The release of cheaper and better Big Bang Disruptions can even sink entire existing industries as “collateral damage.” Citing the sudden demise of Blockbuster Video, Borders Booksellers, Magellan, TomTom, and Garmin, the authors make the case that the destruction of these companies resulted from Big Bang Disruptions issued by the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Google, among others.
 
Authors Downes and Nunes make an attempt to provide both a theoretical revision to innovation theory and deliver strategic advice for dealing with Big Bang Disruptions. They compare the diffusion and adoption of Big Bang Disruptions to the big bang of the cosmos, beginning with a “Singularity," followed by the “Big Bang” of expansion, “The Big Crunch” of contraction, and “Entropy” as the market moves on and assets must be repurposed.  The book provides a suite of “12 Rules” to be used as strategic guidance for dealing with Big Bang Disruptions.
 
As a theory, Big Bang Disruption, purports to be the latest restatement and revision of innovation theory  – a “fourth era” in innovation theory. However, the authors do not provide a framework of definitions and context for how Big Bang Disruption impacts existing innovation theory beyond a cursory overview of the existing theories Big Bang Disruption purportedly "disrupts."  The result is a somewhat tenuous and sometimes inappropriate application of Big Bang Disruption theory.  Although the application of Big Bang Disruption may be somewhat overstated, the book will make a significant impact on existing innovation theories.
 
Big Bang Disruption is most powerfully applied when the theory is seen as an extension to existing innovation theory rather than a restatement or replacement of existing theory. The book is a useful framework for anticipating the effects of products and services making the leap from delivering value using physical means to value delivery by digital means in today’s hyper-connected web environments. 
 
Physicist John Archibald Wheeler is famous for saying that we get “it from bit.”  As a quantum information theory quote, this means that information gives rise to the actual physical world.  As an innovation analogue and mutation to Wheeler’s quantum information theory quote, Big Bang Disruption addressed the impact of humankind’s current transition from “it to bits” in our present world’s super-connected, digital market environments.
 
Despite definitional and contextual shortcomings, Big Bang Disruption delivers an important theoretical extension to the existing theories of Innovation Science.  Understanding Big Bang Disruption theory will prove important to organizations that must understand and deal with the impacts of humanity’s universal, pervasive shift away from physical services and products to digital web environments.

Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation. Downes, Larry; Nunes, Paul (2014). Penguin Group US.


Rustin Diehl trains organizations innovation sciences and practical innovation management curriculum.   For a list of future courses, see http://www.kminstitute.org/schedule-eventsclasses​

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