Innovator’s Dilemma and Organizational Ambidexterity

Innovator's Dilemma -

A tribute post to Professor Clayton Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (1997), who passed away after a long illness.

I am a big fan of Organizational Ambidexterity, made famous by Charles O’Reilly (Stanford) and Michael Tushman’s (Harvard) 2004 HBR article “The Ambidextrous Organization” (

The idea is, like the left hand and right hand of the organization, concentrate on serving (“exploit”) current clients well on one hand, and on the other hand, do (“explore”) innovation as a separate, autonomous endeavor – in a physically different team. Yet it’s the same body, so doing this with a tightly aligned senior management team.

Organizational Ambidexterity is an operating model solution to Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma (“Ambidexterity as a Dynamic Capability: Resolving the Innovator’s Dilemma” 2007, O’Reilly).

The key learning from Christensen is that disruptive technology is hard to emerge from innovation efforts focused with existing customers. And incumbents are aligned to serve existing customers best, so creates opportunities to disruptors.

Organizational Ambidexterity finds ways for incumbents to become disruptors themselves.

RIP Prof. Christensen. You have disrupted the world.

  • Join the Mental Model Dōjō Learning Community

    Upcoming Dōjō Session

    The Art of Upward Management with Authenticity – Building Productive Relationships with Demanding Leaders

    Community Sign-Up

    Join our Mental Model Dōjō learning community and receive Knowledge Base and YouTube channel updates and invitations to community events.

    Joining the the Mental Model Dōjō learning community is free. Agile Organization Development, managed by Lifecycle Pte. Ltd., is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy, and we’ll only use your personal information to administer your account and to provide the products and services you requested from us. From time to time, we would like to contact you about our products and services, as well as other content that may be of interest to you. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information on how to unsubscribe, our privacy practices, and how we are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy. By clicking submit, you consent to allow Lifecycle Pte. Ltd. to store and process the personal information submitted.

Follow Coach Takeshi:

Takeshi Yoshida, Founder & Chief Coach, Agile Organization Development

About Agile OD: We are a tribe of learning professionals that help organzations succeed in change, transformation, innovation | Coach Takeshi bio & credentials