From Clay Christensen’s forthcoming book How Will You Measure Your Life?, an examination of how businesses and individuals fail to understand the challenges posed by smaller competitors with less to lose:

Case studies such as this one helped me resolve a paradox that has appeared repeatedly in my attempts to help established companies that are confronted by disruptive entrants—as was the case with Blockbuster. Once their executives understood the peril that the disruptive attackers posed, I would say, ‘Okay. Now the problem is that your sales force is not going to be able to sell these disruptive products. They need to be sold to different customers, for different purposes. You need to create a different sales force.’ Inevitably they would respond, ‘Clay, you have no idea how much it costs to create a new sales force. We need to leverage our existing sales team.’

The language of the disruptive attackers was completely different: ‘It’s time to create the sales force.’ Hence, the paradox: Why is it that the big, established companies that have so much capital find these initiatives to be so costly? And why do the small entrants with much less capital find them to be straightforward?

“Excerpt: The Trap of Marginal Thinking.” — Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School

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