I want to start a discussion among people who've read, or are reading, Clay Christenson's Innovator's Prescription.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen is, arguably, the most important observer of what makes some technical changes take off and others not. He's the one who created the concept of "disruptive innovation."
It's important to understand that "disruptive" in this sense is not about being socially disturbing or rebellious, it's about developing a new solution that comes from a new direction, rather than being a continuation of the "same-old same-old." The Wikipedia article has good examples of what is and isn't disruptive, in this sense.
In my own career, I witnessed the disruption of the typesetting industry (where I worked) by desktop publishing, which let consumers get what they needed without going through conventional typesetters. To be sure, it was painful to watch my industry die, but die it did – because customers wanted more than we were giving them in service and value.
Because disruption generally rejects the establishment, it's often accompanied by denial on the part of the dominant technology; in my case, we in typesetting said "Our craft is full of skill and knowledge; it takes years to get good at it. Desktop publishing is a toy. It has none of our professional features." But it turned out that consumers were happy to make do with something they could do themselves at a fraction of the cost.
And – and this is pivotal – as the use of desktop publishing spread, its features grew: it became not just a toy. We in typesetting watched the list of our advantages shrink. It was an extreme case, because our entire industry pretty much disappeared in about five years.
Christensen introduced the disruptive concept in 1995 after studying the rapid evolution of disk drive technology. He's since applied it to many industries, and it's been said that entire new national economies have used it (successfully) to plan growth strategies.
But he says his hardest project "by a full order of magnitude" has been to understand healthcare. He's been working on it for ten years – most of the time since he developed the concept – and his healthcare book was just published this February. Importantly, he's not just a techie geek who rejects the medical establishment. He worked closely with some serious doctors, who concur with his conclusions.
But not everyone does agree. One doctor I highly respect says Christensen "nailed the diagnosis but blew the prescription."
I want to discuss it here because I'm someone who's not mired in the industry, but who HAS seen industries get disrupted, and it seems screamingly obvious to me that US healthcare is ripe for disruption. Although its services are life-saving (I'm an example of that), the work is overpriced, consumer satisfaction is very low, people generally can't get what they want when they want it, yet prices keep going up, to the point where some people and some employers are just saying "Screw it" and going without. (Recent statistics have pointed to increases in both; I'm too tired to dig out the links, but it's real, especially for small businesses and all their employees. The healthcare system is pricing itself out of a job.)
Dr. Alan Greene, president of the Society for Participatory Medicine, often mentions in his speeches that healthcare is a bubble, not unlike the internet bubble that popped a while ago. He talks about Disruption and the healthcare bubble. That's an excellent little post – please read it if you want a deeper understanding of what' s up.
I'm only partway through the book, and my free time for reading has been unpleasantly low, so I'd like to hear the thoughts of those who've read it। If you have, please comment.
Quick start: see the reader reviews on Amazon.
Sequel: Christensen: "The general hospital is not a sustainable business model"