Reminder: Big Things Start as Toys

The reason big new things sneak by incumbents is that the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” This is one of the main insights of Clay Christensen’s “disruptive technology” theory. This theory starts with the observation that technologies tend to get better at a faster rate than users’ needs increase.

Disruptive technologies are dismissed as toys because when they are first launched they “undershoot” user needs.

This does not mean every product that looks like a toy will turn out to be the next big thing. To distinguish toys that are disruptive from toys that will remain just toys, you need to look at products as processes.

Wikipedia is literally a process – every day it is edited by spammers, vandals, wackos etc., yet every day the good guys make it better at a faster rate. If you had gone back to 2001 and analyzed Wikipedia as a static product it would have looked very much like a toy.

So much good here.

See what I’m talking about.