Chapter 7

The Royal Rumble Team

The minute I walked into the room for the strategy session with a high-tech company, I felt the buzz. It was a magical combination of intellectual and physical energy. The intellectual energy came from the thrill of cracking vexing technical challenges. They had recently made a big breakthrough on a technical design and they were charged by the attention they were getting from analysts. The physical energy came from the high-strung personalities. These men had probably been the boys who drove teachers to distraction with their fidgeting. The Diet Coke for breakfast and candy all day long probably didn't help.

We had a lot to tackle in our two-day strategy session. The team faced an incredibly difficult decision that's all too common in the tech sector: When is it time to stop investing in our cash cow business so we can throw the weight of the organization behind our disruptive new technology? The problem, described beautifully in Clayton Christensen's book, The Innovator's Dilemma, is that diverting resources away from the old product will hasten its demise, while revenue from the new product probably won't grow fast enough to bridge the gap. It's incredibly difficult to find the right moment to flip the switch, and the decision requires market data and analytics as well as intuition developed over years in the industry.

The conversation started getting louder and faster. Each person in the room led a division or department and they staunchly defended ...

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