Blitzkrieg means “lightning war”, but despite the German name it was not a German invention. Back in 1917 a brilliant English officer developed a revolutionary way to use the latest development in military technology – the tank. The British army squandered the idea but two decades later later Hitler’s tanks thundered across Europe, achieving the kind of rapid victories that had been predicted back in 1917.
This is a common story: Sony invented the digital Walkman, Xerox the personal computer, and Kodak the digital camera. In each case they failed to capitalise on the idea. Why?
Featuring: Toby Stephens, Ed Gaughan and Rufus Wright.
Producers: Ryan Dilley and Marilyn Rust. Sound design/mix/musical composition: Pascal Wyse. Fact checking: Joseph Fridman. Editor: Julia Barton. Recording: Wardour Studios, London. GSI Studios, New York. PR: Christine Ragasa.
Thanks to the team at Pushkin Industries, Heather Fain, Mia Lobel, Carly Migliori, Jacob Weisberg, and of course, the mighty Malcolm Gladwell.
The original paper on architectural innovation is:
Henderson, Rebecca M., and Kim B. Clark. “Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and The Failure of Established Firms.” Administrative Science Quarterly 35, no. 1 (March 1990): 9–30