The always-excellent Lynne K reviews Jill Lepore's critique of Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma. She delves quite the rabbit hole. I'll do my best to parse the arguments as I see them.
It's worse than that, of course. We'd still be going blind in droves from handwashing our clothes using raw lye, frittering hours each week mending (relatively) expensive clothes, and dying early after a short, rough life of backbreaking toil.
Josh Gans: Kirzner, ftw. Customers ultimately test whether or not an innovation is any good. Disruption on its own tells us nothing about if a new product or service is any good. Firms must take calculated risks under conditions of uncertainty. Ex ante, it could have seemed possible that Crystal Pepsi was a good idea. You don't know till you try. The customers have to sort it out. And even with careful study, risk management, and attentive marketing teams, your customers are almost always sure to surprise you.
Furthermore, what counts as "important" today may not be important tomorrow. Metrics are a locus of attention. Attention shifts.
The economics of energy delivery are particularly salient here. Every now and again, there are big, non-ergodic disruptions to how humans convert heat and light into something useful. The rest of the time, clever folks, ever alert to the importance of mutual, (eu)voluntary production and exchange work to improve, refine, distill this conversion. Prediction is cheap talk (and perhaps impossible). Action is better.