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如何走出创新者的窘境

2014-01-16    来源:fortunechina    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

许多公司似乎无力自救,眼睁睁地看着自己跳进创新者的窘境这个陷阱,遭遇灭顶之灾。现在,思科公司掌门人想出了一个看起来很有前景的应对策略。他能成功吗?

If absolutely everyone in business knows about the innovator's dilemma -- how it works, how it often dooms big, successful companies -- then why is avoiding it still so extraordinarily hard for business leaders?

如果说商界中人个个都对“创新者的窘境”耳熟能详,非常了解它是怎么发生的,如何让不少成功的大公司走进死胡同,那为什么无数商业领袖依然难逃此劫呢?

Harvard's Clayton Christensen published The Innovator's Dilemma 17 years ago, yet we continue to see companies marching into the buzz saw, eyes wide open, apparently helpless to save themselves. The latest example is, of all things, the U.S. plywood industry. The makers of hardwood plywood were getting killed by cheap Chinese imports, so they banded together and petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to declare that Chinese makers were dumping -- selling something in the U.S. at "less than its fair value" -- and to put a stop to it. The ITC turned them down in November. The plywood makers, who are appealing the decision, say they've had to eliminate 25,000 U.S. jobs over the past four years partly because of Chinese competition.

17年前,哈佛大学(Harvard University)的克莱顿·克里斯坦森出版了《创新者的窘境》(The Innovator's Dilemma)一书。但时至今日,我们依然看到许多公司前赴后继地跳进这个陷阱,眼睁睁地看着自己无法脱身。一个最新的例子是美国胶合板产业。在中国廉价进口货品的冲击下,美国硬木胶合板制造商正在遭遇灭顶之灾,所以它们抱团取暖,恳请美国国际贸易委员会(U.S. International Trade Commission,简称ITC)宣布中国制造商正在倾销胶合板(即以“低于公允价值”的价格在美国销售商品),同时要求它制止这种行为。11月,ITC拒绝了这项请求。心有不甘的胶合板制造商们正在就此裁决提出申诉。它们说,来自中国的竞争压力在某种程度上导致胶合板制造商在过去4年流失了25,000个工作岗位。

What actually happened to the industry is described pithily by an executive quoted in a recent USA Today article: "The Chinese came in with a low-price, low-quality entry, then got better and better and worked up the food chain."

《今日美国》( USA Today)最近一篇报道援引一位高管的话,非常简洁地描述了这个行业衰落的真相:“最初涌入的中国产品价廉质劣,但随后变得越来越好,一步步地爬向食物链的上游。”

That is of course precisely how the innovator's dilemma plays out. As Christensen powerfully showed, successful incumbent companies are often happy to cede the bottom of the market to new competitors making cheap, crummy products because those products often earn the lowest profit margins; by dropping out of those categories, the incumbents increase their own overall margins. But the insurgent competitor is gaining economies of scale while innovating ways to compete in the next higher category. Incumbents may be happy to let that category go too, because doing so will again raise their overall profit margins.

当然,这恰恰是创新者窘境的演变方式。正如克里斯坦森的如椽大笔所述,处于市场领导地位的成功企业往往乐于把低端市场让给那些制造价廉质劣产品的新竞争对手,因为这些产品的利润率往往最低;放弃这类产品可以增加市场领导者自身的整体利润率。但蓄谋篡位的竞争对手正在获得规模经济优势,同时不断创新经营方式,开始进军更高一级的产品类别。市场领导者或许也乐意放弃这个品类,因为这样做可以进一步提升整体利润率。

That is, the insurgents get better and better, working up the food chain. The incumbents -- the plywood makers, for example -- typically don't wake up until they're in deep trouble.

也就是说,“市场破坏者”变得越来越好,不断地爬向食物链的上游。市场领导者(比如美国的胶合板制造商)通常直到深陷困境之际,才如梦方醒。

Christensen showed 17 years ago how that scenario has played out in steel, construction equipment, and many other industries. He described how smart, successful executives fall into the trap. His book, one of the most significant business books of the past 50 years, became a mammoth bestseller, and its title entered the language. Yet no evidence seems to suggest that managers have improved even a little at evading one of business's most disastrous blunders.

早在17年前,克里斯坦森就描述了这一幕降临到钢材、建筑设备等诸多行业头上的情形。此外,他还描述了许多聪颖过人的成功企业家落入这个陷阱的情形。这部著作是过去50年最重要的商业书籍之一,已经成为一本超级畅销书,书名本身也已经成为人们频频使用的商业词汇。但就如何避免陷入“创新者的窘境”而言,似乎没有证据表明经理人有了哪怕一丁点的进展。

It will be instructive to watch John Chambers' intriguing attempt to avoid the trap. Threatened by the rise of a new technology called software-defined networking, in what looks like a classic innovator's-dilemma situation, the CEO of networking incumbent Cisco (CSCO) has assembled a group of engineers into a new, free-standing company to figure out how to defeat the insurgents.

看看约翰•钱伯斯为避免这个陷阱而进行的新颖尝试,将会很有启发性。眼下,一种名为“软件定义网络”(software-defined networking)的新技术正在强势崛起,情形看起来就像是一个经典的创新者窘境。身为网络市场领导者的思科公司(Cisco)公司感受到了威胁,于是公司CEO的钱伯斯召集一批工程师,加入一家新成立的独立公司,找出击退市场破坏者的策略。

The approach sounds promising. It might even work. If it does, we'll face the really interesting question: Will anyone learn from it?  

这种方法听起来前景光明,甚至有可能真的行得通。倘若如此,我们将面临一个值得关注的问题:有没有人能从中学到点什么呢?(fortunechina)



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