Clayton M. Christensen
"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 was recently named 2013’s most influential living management thinker in the world by Thinkers50 for the second time running, an achievement matched only by management legends Peter Drucker and CK Prahalad.
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.
Sixteen years later, Professor Christensen believes we are in the throes of the "Capitalist’s Dilemma" – a theory at the heart of his forthcoming book of the same name, which he hopes will "help us understand that policies that were once right are now wrong, and that counterintuitive measures might actually work to turn our economies around." Professor Christensen also continues to focus the lens of disruptive innovation on the world’s most pressing social problems: healthcare and education. 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) – and nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank The Clayton Christensen Institute offer unique frameworks for better understanding and addressing these ever-evolving challenges.
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, but rather try to help people address their jobs-to-be-done. This seemingly simple idea has terrific potential for reframing industries and is the basis for another forthcoming book.
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 (NASDAQ: ENSG).
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 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.