Innovator's DilemmaThe Innovator's Dilemma

When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

by Clayton M Christensen

Harvard Business School Press

An update and review of his 1997 book. Mr. Christensen was a guru of innovation and management thinking who inspired many across the information sciences, technology and industries. Clayton M Christensen passed away at 67, January 23, 2020 from complications with cancer in Boston, Massachusetts. I know he inspired me and many others at IBM during my tenure there. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and love him.

Discussion Framework

The Innovator’s Dilemma in full context of Elegant Reasonism is something worthy to revisit and discuss from a variety of points of view. We will use our standard framework for discussion to introduce the larger discussion needed (e.g. the call for a global systems review). From the perspective of the status quo structures in civilized society Elegant Reasonism is a completely new and highly disruptive technology for all the reasons cited In Unification’s Wake, Part 05: Business Impact. Foundations are important to society and civilization because all constructs are built atop them. They provide for essential communication of truths in what it is we think we know and why those things are. What no one in history, including us, ever expected was for those foundations to ever change. Enter one Susanne K Langer who in 1948 pointed out the symbology linkage within abstractions we employ to represent the material mode of reality. Therein she pointed out that mistaking abstractions for actual reality was a fatal epistemological error. Not until Charles C McGowen saw those words in context of a systems review he was driving circa 2004 – 2019 did those words resonate. McGowen, by profession was a business process reengineering professional with tenures in systems engineering, information technology, knowledge management and marketing. A long way from his early studies in aerospace engineering, but soon all the dots converged and connected like never before.


The common thread linking business leadership; new and old, traditional and current populist, historical and otherwise seemed ensnared and chained by LEEs Empiricism Trap, blinded by their past successes and failed to comprehend the new trajectory Elegant Reasonism represents thus creating a new dimension for consideration regarding The Innovator’s Dilemma.


Insight communication is dependent on cognition of the standards based utility process, framework and epistemologies which derive truth as a function of the unified Universe as a philosophical predicate priority entering science is utterly unknown much less accepted by civilization. All of civilization is on the precipice of its greatest threat; essential freedom and liberty under constant attack from ignorant left or extremist right, global economic collapse, maturity through power, fundamental source of truth, biosphere impact, and geopolitical posturing over finite resources or available time with scant visionaries empowered to appropriate action.


  1. Do nothing and allow civilization to descend into chaos and watch as the elite thrash about crushing opportunity and life everywhere in doings of their own making utterly ignorant of the shackles ensnaring them all.
  2. Toss Elegant Reasonism as a bone to the elites in hopes that they would do the right thing for civilization.
  3. Patent the utility process, framework and epistemology in order to assure its dissemination through free markets in support of the global economy through entrepreneurial eyes instantiated by Constitutional Republics for all people.


Obviously by now everyone knows we chose number 3.  This article is a little about why we did that.


  1. Money is the instantiation of intrinsic value but that is highly determinant on the ability to perceive as one engages and Elegant Reasonism clearly points out that insights are justified in fully cognizant familiariation with the utility process, framework, and epistemology. Epistemological justification for insights must be broadly recognized or value will be difficult at best to communicate and there are many demographic segments swayed by cognitive biases. Philosophy itself must be mode shifted in the context where everything real is integrated (e.g. unification) and that means systems reviews of Axiology (e.g. philosophy of value derivation), Epistemology (e.g. philosophy of knowledge), Ontology (e.g. philosophy of being), Science (e.g. philosophy of nature), and Supervenience (e.g. philosophy of order and priority). Elegant Reasonism recognizes the ultimate arbiter of truth is the unified Universe itself. Nothing invented by biological life can long usurp that authority. The unified Universe is.
  2. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Separation of powers is therefore required and demanded. Therein lay an observation that Constitutional Republics instantiating freedom and liberty must be prioritized. Elegant Reasonism could not be mandated or ordained into existence. In fact it was developed under entrepreneurial spirit despite great odds against it. Elegant Reasonism requires a multidisciplinary approach and is likely one of the best examples for such education curricula relative to accreditation standards. One of the pivotal points in accomplishing unification was Susanne K Langer‘s body of work and that work essentially centered on art appreciation. A realm scarcely visited by theoretical astrophysicists and therein lay our point that unification is a tapestry a great deal larger than any single domain of discourse or constituent detail set. What must transpire is action in the preservation of core values supporting principles of freedom and liberty.  And it is for these reasons the application filing began with excerpts from The Federalist Papers written by the founding fathers whose collective documents and works forged the crucible that is the United States. All appropriate law, legislation and globally accepted international treaty protects and assures the integrity of what we have filed here on behalf of civilization. We must work to assure that no assailant steals that from our progeny or future. The Sol system will embrace strategic sustainability to endure in the unified Universe.
  3. The elite have had thousands of years worth of opportunity to accomplish unification but rather than support strategic sustainability they focused on foundations of power for themselves. In the end we all are constituents of the unified Universe and all power is an illusion. What matters is the action we take to secure freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom does not mean moving goal posts. Nor does it mean ignoring facts when the game changes. Nor does it mean emotion wins the day in spite of hard cold fact presented by the unified Universe. The unified Universe is always held litmus. We must strive not to commit Langer Epistemology Errors (LEEs).
  4. Logically correct simultaneous truths 100% in full agreement with experiment now must also close to unification and if they do not then they are not correct. Something can be logically correct yet remain physically different. Albert Einstein was absolutely 100% logically correct with the constructs and models he envisioned and therein lay the strategic clue needed to perceive and engage the unified Universe. The philosophical elements demanded by the unified Universe must be a predicate priority consideration entering science (not after you get there).
  5. Arrogant hubris mode shifts axiologically in context of strategic sustainability into nothingness, it serves no enduring purpose. We are reminded of the closing lines in the movie Patton, written by Francis Ford Copala, that all glory is fleeting. We might point out that even Black Holes are frangible under M5 if the Bang to Bang insights are correct. Once a characterization exists reflecting what is inside our particle horizon Bang to Bang we are immediately faced with the requirement to relate everything real to that reflection and we can not accomplish that then we must revisit our assertions. Some feel small when they contemplate large scales of the entanglement gradient. Just how small we humans are does not come into perspective until we recognize that everything depicted by the WMAP data is inside our particle horizon and that those statistical circles in the WMAP data highly suggest the Bang to Bang conclusions and that compellingly suggests that there are an unknowably infinite number of other such ‘universes’ out there. Ironically there is a great deal of wisdom in our ancient texts. There is no such thing as darkness, only the absence of light. There is no such thing as cold, only the absence of heat which is a function of action. It is entirely up to us to instantiate the appropriate action to illuminate and illustrate the path forward. In the immortal words of Yoda: ‘do or do not, there is no try’. For these and many more reasons we mode shifted The Baloney Detection Kit.
  6. The Innovator’s Dilemma necessarily must integrate disruptive technologies into consideration and Elegant Reasonism is a disruptive technology relative to and respective of the status quo (tranditionally and historically speaking) and that fundamentally requires those which might alter our perception and engagement of all that is.
  7. Unification demands the integration of everything real and it is the unified Universe handing us those requirements. They are not designed or built by humans. They will be the same everywhere in the unified Universe not just on Earth or in our little Solar system. The unified Universe does not care what you do or do not think, it just is. Action matters (See EMCS01). Force, all force, is the work instantiated by the intrinsic action of interacting architectural mass within an Event Frame. All physical properties are made manifest by the structures of architectural mass which, under M5, are configurations of MBPs instantiated by the Fundamental Entanglement Function, limited by Severance. The only construct under M5 seemingly not susceptible to Severance is the MBP itself, by definition. Philosophically any attempt to discern greater detail or constituent elements only serves to redefine the constituents of its definition. Its essential character and intrinsic nature do not change, even under those circumstances.

Next Steps

  1. Form a business construct whose essential mission is strategic sustainability. Done: SOLREI INC.
  2. Establish a network presence whose principle mission is to articulate unification. In Progress:
  3. Set up an intellectual property licensing arrangment that maximizes comprehension and only requires fees under revenue transaction circumstances. DONE: ERGUL and ERCUL.
  4. Facilitate capability for civilization to perceive and engage the unified Universe. In Progress: traffic analysis of our website suggests engagement is underway.
  5. Delegate Innovator’s Dilemma to entrepreneurial spirits across the globe. In Progress: Early adopters are working through their paradigm shifts as they should.


Every human of every nation comprising civilization everywhere. After all, eventually it will all be united or cold. If we do not wish to be cold we must be united.

The Innovator’s Dilemma In Unification’s Wake

There is a great deal to take in at the moment. Do not think that you can not understand any of this or that you do not have the wherewithall. You do. The SOLREI company started with three people and we had to take on all of civilization and its preconceived notions of how things are and must be. Trust us when we say we understand intimidation. You have to know and understand when to swim upstream against status quo forces. The proverbial keys to the kingdom are worth that effort and we want to put them in your hands.

Great Companies Fail

Great companies fail because they become arrogant, deny trends, ignore signals, become self-important, or lose their relevance. Value networks and the impetus to innovate sometimes link more than just your company together. What may seem like an unnecessary cost is actual a hinge point to retaining a vanguard position. That was a lesson many in the IT industry failed to understand. They lost key markets in critical sectors and were as a result relegated to the dust heap of history.

Take any industry and look at participants there from inception to the present day, regardless if the industry as a whole no longer exists. List participants of that industry annually or by decade. Study the volatility. Why did some companies fail and others endure? Why did new participants enter those markets but wither away before the market as a whole?

Business students will recognize the relevance of strategic brand intent across these domains of discourse and within appropriate detail set. What is different this time, with Elegant Reasonism is exceedingly basic. Only when you realize the implications of encapsulation will you understand that it determines whether or not you will even be able to see that train coming at you down that tunnel. If you do not understand these vital issues you are going to get run over before you ever knew what hit you. Elegant Reasonism is a disruptive technology that is going to drive volatility for quite some time to come.

Managing Change

The only effective defense against a competitor wielding Elegant Reasonism is your organization wielding it better and more effectively. If you are not onboard with that then there is a good chance you’ve already lost. These challenges are not new by any stretch. Plato wrote about such struggles in book seven of The Republic in his allegory: The Cave. That was over 2,000 years ago.

The Elegant Reasonism Twist Managing Change

Clayton M Christensen suggested giving responsibilities for disruptive technologies to organizations whose customers need them. The twist here is assuming that everyone is on the same interpretative footing and foundation. That assumption is now patently false. The division now is whether or not you can perceive and engage the unified Universe or not. That is the division and everyone had better be on the side that does.

Matching the size of the organization to the size of the market may get you in trouble. Rhetorically we ask: did you ever read the story of David and Goliath? Passion matters here. So do deep pockets. Couple those together and you have a potent competitor and we don’t care how big you think you are.

Elegant Reasonism doesn’t just show you how what you are thinking fits into the unified Universe, though it does do that, it will illuminate insight areas you never fathomed existed or even could exist under traditional interpretation. Integrate these ideas with Christensen’s original observations and you now have something more potent than was ever realized.

You are a successful business person and have powerful influence and status. You know just who James W Marshall is then, right? Marshall was “the” saw mill operator working at Sutter’s Mill in California who was literally the first person to discover gold there and was subsequently the impetus for the California gold rush in the 1840’s. He was a fabulous success right? Wrong. Neither he nor Sutter profited from their discovery. Know why? Marshall died penniless. Neither of them ever did any paperwork or filed their claim. Others did file their claim and properly completed all the requirements for licensing their claims. Having the right permits and doing things the right way is important.

Capabilities and Disabilities

The unified Universe does not care what or how you think. That is entirely up to you and the actions you take as a result. What we can report is that action is up to you. You need to be completely honest with yourself and whether or not you can perceive the unified Universe much less can you engage it. Only you can answer those questions. Know too that ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems (QMS) Standards and programs like Six Sigma and standard root cause analysis all have to be mode shifted right along with all the metrics you though you were going to use.

What we do know is that most of the global 2000 largest businesses on Earth have existing intellectual property portfolios. What we know is that those organizations can not perceive the unified Universe without a our process, framework, or epistemology or derivatives of them (all of which are covered by our application). The truth therein lay a strategic point and it is that mode shifted insights are net new insights available to refile with net new owners. If you are an existing enterprise with such portfolios then you better get busy refiling your assets before someone else does. We would strongly suggest you have your paperwork in order when you do.

Performance provided, market demand, and product life cycles are all likely going to be affected by Elegant Reasonism analysis. There are dynamics through all of this dependent on what technologies and capabilities emerge from insights none of us ever thought about before. We now have equations linking all of the fundamental forces of nature but there is a great deal we do not yet know about architectures of mass that instantiate them. Knowing one does not necessarily grant the other. A great deal of work remains.

The Global Systems Review

The Innovator’s Dilemma suggests that civilization is far from done with all this and a comprehensive systems review into what it is we think we know and why are now called for. Global enterprise is warned and cautioned that there is no defense against Elegant Reasonism save wielding it better and more effectively than your competition. It does not matter if that setting is business oriented or geopolitical in nature. We strongly encourage insights first observed in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Surviving the impending volatility demands positive action. Apathy cedes control to others. Action is the order of the day if you want to perceive and engage the unified Universe. What we absolutely know right now is that status quo thinking does not nor can it do so. Therefore the reins are in the hands of the entrepreneurs worldwide. Engage Elegant Reasonism to cognition. If you intend application in any situation where revenue transactions are made then you will need a commercial license. Right now, as SOLREI INC works toward IPO getting started is easy, simply begin learning, that’s free. Determine your own situation and what you likely need to do. Our objective is to automate as much as possible through the website here. The Elegant Reasoner is our newsletter, which right now is also free.

The SolREI Company

The vision we have is not just this particular endeavor. Our larger view is on delivering real value throughout the system and that requires strategic sustainability. Strategic sustainability to us means endurance beyond future thresholds. It means reconciliation of hard problems. It means integration of strategic intent with tactical efforts toward an enduring legacy for all. In our experience goal post movers and those who support such agendas serve little purpose other than to obfuscate real contribution to GDP. Our mission, goal, and objectives are to render clarity of action and strategic intent of purpose. That was one reason we released The Talladega Report. Enemies of freedom and liberty should be cautious of determined applied action supporting institutions established to protect individual citizen’s sovereignty. We will take necessary action as appropriate, in our laws, legislation, and deeds. Liberty will not die and freedom has been too hard won to ever forget.

Our core message to all entrepreneurs and independent thinkers and doers everywhere, beware The Innovator’s Dilemma and then sic’em.



#ElegantReasonism #EmergenceModel #Unification #InnovatorsDilemma #Entrepreneur


By Charles McGowen

Charles C McGowen is a strategic business consultant. He studied Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University '76-'78. IBM hired him early in '79 where he worked until 2003. He is now Chairman & CEO of SolREI, Inc. ORCID:

One thought on “The Innovator’s Dilemma”
  1. […] it does not matter whether you consider William of Ockham‘s requirement for simplicity or Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma. Ultimately when we consider the requirement of unification as a philosophical predicate priority […]

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