Management academicians have discovered that this is worse than a soldier navigating a minefield. While it takes them years to come up with that big blockbuster idea, it takes just a minute for a rival to junk it.
Last month, for instance, Aneel G Karnani, a professor at the Michigan-based Ross school of Business, launched a searing attack against fellow academic C K Prahalad. His contention: Prahaladâ€™s Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) theory, the idea that selling to the poor can be profitable and also help eradicate poverty is flawed.
Mr.Karnani said that the BOP proposition is indeed too good to be true. There is neither glory nor fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Among other things, he picks holes with some of Prahaladâ€™s assumptions regarding the size of the BOP market and the cost companies need to incur to tap that market. Rather than focusing on the poor as consumers, we need to view the poor as producers.
Prahalad, one of the foremost management thinkers in the world today, has posted a strong reply saying time will tell whether BOP is a market or not.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. For years now, Tom Peters (author of In Search of Excellence) has been taking potshots at Jim Collins. He is particularly scathing of Collinsâ€™ definition of great companies: he agrees they have done well but â€œthey havenâ€™t led anyone anywhereâ€?.
He said that Microsoft is around 50 years from now. Microsoft set the agenda in the worldâ€™s most important industry at a critical period of time, and that is leadership, not the fact that you are able to stay alive until your beard is 200 feet long.
Strategy expert John Hagel turned to his blog to attack innovation guru Gary Hamelâ€™s Harvard Business Review article( The Why, What and How of Management Innovation, February 2006). Hagel said that Hamel was confusing breakthrough management innovation and continuous management innovation. He accused him of not tackling the most challenging aspect of management innovation moving from creative ideas to sustained and broad-based impact, especially in large, traditional enterprises. This sparked off a lively debate on Hagelâ€™s blog.
And hereâ€™s one more on innovation. W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgneâ€™s â€˜Blue Ocean Strategyâ€™ might have been a bestseller across the world but it cut no ice with innovation guru and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.
In a recent interview Christensen frigidly said that what they based their Blue Ocean concept is a very bad research.