The Innovators Dilemma
Clayton Christensen's seminal work, The Innovators Dilemma, not only won the Global Business Book Award for the Best Business Book of the Year but also “deeply influenced” Steve Jobs, as reported in Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson. In this presentation, Christensen lays down an approachable framework for establishing a work environment that encourages innovation from the ground up.
“Instead of telling him what to think, I told him how to think.” It’s a simple quote that embodies the mission – and mantra – of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen: encourage inquiry. It’s also at the root of his disruptive innovation theory, which has defined 21st century business and continues to profoundly impact organizations and their leaders across the globe.
A world-renowned innovation strategy and growth expert, Professor Christensen is repeatedly recognized as one of the most influential living management thinkers in the world (Thinkers50). He revolutionized conventional management thinking with his seminal book, The Innovator’s Dilemma (Harvard Business School Press, 1997), which explored the radical paradox that great companies fail by making the “right decisions” in the “wrong” situations. The New York Times best-seller has been translated into 18 languages, sold in more than 25 countries and has deeply influenced some of the greatest business leaders of our time – among them Apple’s Steve Jobs, business magnate Michael Bloomberg and Intel CEO Andy Grove.
But Professor Christensen believes one of his most enduring legacies will be an idea he first put forward in his 2003 book The Innovator’s Solution (Harvard Business Review Press): don’t sell products and services to customers; address their jobs to be done. This seemingly simple idea holds powerful potential for reframing industries. The Jobs to be Done theory is the focus of his recently published book, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice (HarperCollins, October 2016). By understanding what causes customers to "hire" a product or service, businesses can improve innovation track records and uncover new growth opportunities.
Professor Christensen also continues to focus the lens of disruptive innovation on the world’s most pressing social problems: health care, education and economics. In 2014, his HBR article, “The Capitalist’s Dilemma,” urges leaders on the Hill to evaluate outdated policies and embrace counterintuitive measures that can help improve our global economies. His best-selling books – The Innovator’s Prescription (McGraw-Hill, 2009), Disrupting Class (McGraw-Hill, 2008) and The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out (Jossey-Bass, 2011) – alongside the rich research and practical work of non-profit, non-partisan think tank The Clayton Christensen Institute, offer unique frameworks for better understanding and addressing these ever-evolving challenges. And in his forthcoming book The Prosperity Paradox (2019), Professor Christensen tells how disruptive innovation not only lifts people out of poverty, but also catapults them to prosperity, paving the way to a more just and equitable world.
A widely sought after speaker, advisor and board member, Professor Christensen’s research continues to be applied to national economies, start-up and Fortune 50 companies, as well as to early- and late-stage investing. He is also an experienced entrepreneur, having started three successful companies: CPS Technologies, innovation consulting firm Innosight, and investment firm Rose Park Advisors. He currently serves as a board member at Tata Consulting Services (NSE: TCS), Franklin Covey (NYSE: FC) and Ensign Group, Inc.
And yet, for all Professor Christensen has accomplished in his professional life, he urges people not to reserve “your best business thinking for your career.” Too often, he says, “we measure success in life against the progress we make in our careers.” This personal and provocative advice is detailed in his McKinsey Award-winning article turned best-selling book, How Will You Measure Your Life? (HarperCollins, 2012), in which he encourages all of us to think about what is truly important.