The White Space Between
Dealing with Industry Discontinuity
—Joseph A. Schumpeter
In the early nineteenth century, most people lit their homes with lamps that burned whale oil. In midcentury, supplies of the oil dwindled, causing a steep rise in price. A Canadian physician and geologist named Abraham Gesner developed kerosene, a cleaner-burning alternative made from a plentiful resource—crude oil—laying the foundation for what would become the modern petroleum industry. Whaling, a major world industry, virtually ceased. Then Thomas Edison threw a light switch, and the world changed again. No one wanted foul-smelling, dangerous kerosene lanterns in their homes anymore when they could ...