Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2012 (Revised April 2013)

Digital Microscopy at Carl Zeiss: Managing Disruption

by Willy Shih


Ulrich Simon, the head of the Microscopy business group at Carl Zeiss AG knew that his unit was facing a disruptive threat, so he chartered a special team to tackle the industrial segment. Given a high degree of autonomy, the project team developed an understanding of the marketplace challenge and proceeded to develop and execute on a new business plan. Simon gave the team ample freedom to develop new processes and priorities appropriate to the market segment needs, but he couldn't help but wonder whether it would continue as a stand-alone unit or he would need to reintegrate it into the mainline business. He also was nervous about the plan itself. The team had established timelines and milestones, but now they had to execute and deliver their first product next year.

Keywords: modularity; High technology products; emergent strategy; Product lines; Corporate Strategy; Technology Platform; Disruptive Innovation; Technology Industry; Germany;


Shih, Willy. "Digital Microscopy at Carl Zeiss: Managing Disruption." Harvard Business School Case 613-039, September 2012. (Revised April 2013.)