Compelling reasons to rethink your strategies

Product by:
Larry Downes and Paul Nunes

Reviewed by:
On 31 January, 2014
Last modified:31 January, 2014


Business leaders no longer have leisure to plan innovations. Nowadays, it's Big Bang disruption, and you're either a victim or a perpetrator.

In the era of Big Bang Disruption, new disrupters attack existing markets not just from the top, bottom and sides, but from all three at once; their offerings can be simultaneously better, cheaper and more customised, according to Larry Downes and Paul Nunes in their book Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation. If you want to avoid becoming a victim, you need to learn how to create, launch and compete using your own Big Bang disruptions.

In the past, companies had time to create strategic plans for the gradual implementation of innovations, and adoption occurred according to a predictable bell curve. What has changed to enable Big Bang disruptions? According to the authors, the necessary economic conditions are:

  • The declining cost of creation, which enables success with undisciplined strategy
  • The declining cost of information, which enables unconstrained growth
  • The declining cost of experimentation, which enables unencumbered development

Whereas the adoption of innovations used to proceed from innovators to early adopters to early majority to late majority to laggards, the new life cycle curve resembles a shark fin with four stages:

  • The Singularity, in which various entrepreneurs make failed experiments
  • The Big Bang, in which an innovation achieves catastrophic success very quickly
  • The Big Crunch, in which, after reaching market saturation, the innovation’s market share rapidly falls away; and
  • Entropy, in which very small markets remain for older products

The authors have presented a convincing argument that some markets now follow the Big Bang disruption innovation process, but will the Big Bang become the new normal for everyone? All types of businesses are affected to some extent by digital goods and services, but it seems to me that we still live in a divided world, where some markets have been completely changed by disruptive technology, while others are largely unchanged. I am not yet convinced that the whole world is going the way of the Big Bang.

This is an original and compelling book, well worth reading for anyone who is seeking to guide a business to a profitable future.

Business leaders no longer have leisure to plan innovations. Nowadays, it's Big Bang disruption, and you're either a victim or a perpetrator.

1 Comment

  1. […] environment of disruptive technologies, the principles outlined in the book continue to apply. Downes and Nunes in their book Big Bang Disruption present a very different picture of how innovations start, shoot to prominence, and die out in a […]

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