Scott Anthony is one of the principles of consulting firm Innosight, a very innovative consulting company founded to capitalize on the insights into industry disruption pioneered by Clayton Christensen. Like myself, he maintains a blog over at the Harvard Business Review site. He recently published a post that I thought was marvelous on multiple levels, a two year follow up of companies he listed as on the brink disruptors. This is great on multiple levels. How often does a management thinker have the guts to show how well their predictions worked out in practice?
Almost never. In fact, it gets pretty hilarious when you do – the number of esteemed people whowere just flat out wrong is considerable, and yet they never fess up! I'm thinking of a pretty heavy duty consultant who published an article on how all of us should emulate banks because they had learned to eliminate risks in their businesses. Or another pretty well regarded guru who waxed lyrical about Enron. Or another…well you get the idea. If you want to know the gory details, email me. Or if you just want to learn about why we are so often wrong about such things, I can recommend Phil Rosenzweig's book The Halo Effect.
Anyway, back to Scott. What he found when he did go back and revisit his list, was the following:
Had you split $100,000 in these seven companies on January 16, 2009, you would have close to $260,000 today (compared to about $175,000 if you had invested in comparable indices). Six of the seven companies individually exceeded the overall market, by wide margins.
Remember, this was not done retrospectively – he and his colleagues made the predictions two years ago and had the courage to follow up now. Which supports an idea that both Scott and I share, which is that when companies get the theory and practice of innovation right, it stops being this mysterious thing that only super-gifted people can pull off, but can even become something one can harness more or less routinely. And that's pretty encouraging.