PART 1 — Is Tesla Disruptive? Or how I made to the opinion section of the Harvard Business Review.

The Comment and The Context

The memories are still vivid. One day I got an email from someone with email address with the subject line “HBR Comment Consideration”. Just looking up the email, my heart starts beating faster. Long story short I made a pretty long comment on Clayton Christensen’s article: “Tesla’s Not as Disruptive as You Might Think”. In this comment, I argued that Tesla is changing the customer experience game for cars. Also, you shouldn’t compare cars with Tesla as the customers are buying something different. And that pretty much still holds true to this day. The over-the-air updates and therefore, the lower depreciation are still trademarks of Tesla. Disruption is not necessarily based on cost bottom-up — rather than a brand new customer behavior.


Does this mean Christensen wasn’t right? Absolutely not. He coined the term disruptive innovation, and by definition, Tesla wasn’t disruptive. But if you look at the whole experience, they could provide you with a cheaper total lifetime cost with higher upfront costs. I would say we were both right. Although I’ve met him during the Herbert Simon award ceremony (before he published this article, early 2015), I never had a chance to discuss innovation with him. His legacy is outstanding and his groundbreaking approach detailed in The Innovator’s Dilemma is standing tall even after decades of the original release. To write something that holds true for decades, especially in innovation, shows how brilliant he was.



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