Friday, September 19, 2014

The Wide Lens

Over time, companies have become more specialized. As a result, fewer products are made completely by one company. Instead, each company is just one cog in a product ecosystem. In The Wide Lens, Ron Adner argues that this increases the risk that an execution failure that occurs *outside* the company will affect the company. This book is about how companies can manage these risks.

This book offers yet another viewpoint on why some companies have failed while others have thrived, offering a number of case studies. Over the course of a number of different books, I must have read about a dozen different views by now about why certain companies are so successful, while others have failed. Each author highlights the facts such that they correspond to his existing view of the world, which I suppose is only human. Of course, they may all be right; it's impossible to really determine which factors had what influence on a complex entity like a public company.

Still, I did appreciate Adner's take. He discusses how some of the best innovations by companies resulted in limited market success, because they hadn't considered the ecosystem around the product or supply chain incentives which limit change.

He then offers solutions to these issues, illustrating them with examples of real-life companies that did manage to overcome initial difficulties by implementing versions of the solutions Adner recommends. If you enjoy case studies and learning different viewpoints of business problems, I think you'll appreciate the book.

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