Hal Gregersen

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hal-gregersen

Global Authority on Building Innovative Leaders and Companies; Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center; Co-Author, “The Innovator’s DNA”

Biography

Hal Gregersen is committed to creating insight with impact. As Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, he pursues his vocation of learning how leaders in business, government and society discover provocative new strategies, develop the human and organizational capacity to realize those strategies, and ultimately deliver positive, powerful results. Putting insight into practice, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, motivational executive seminars and transformational coaching experiences. He is also a Senior Fellow at Innosight, a leading global innovation consulting firm, and a former advisory board member at Pharmascience, a privately held pharmaceutical company based in Montreal, Canada. Before joining MIT, he taught at INSEAD, London Business School, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Brigham Young University and in Finland as a Fulbright Fellow.

Gregersen’s most recent book, “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), uncovers the code for the successful innovator in business – and beyond. Unlike other books that help organizations simply maximize execution, “The Innovator’s DNA” demonstrates how execution alone can become a dead-end destination unless you cultivate enough competent innovators within your company to make crucial new discoveries. Co-authored with Jeff Dyer at Wharton/BYU and Clayton Christensen, the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” at Harvard Business School, “The Innovator’s DNA” comes from an eight-year international research project on the origins of disruptive innovations and how executives, entrepreneurs and employees build highly innovative companies. In collaboration with HOLT at Credit Suisse, Gregersen and his co-authors identified the 50 most innovative companies in the world and interviewed their founder entrepreneurs and current CEOs. They also conducted over 6,000 Innovator’s DNA survey assessments of leaders around the world to show how creativity skills generate valuable new products, services, processes and businesses. The book, named Book of the Year for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Chartered Management Institute in association with The British Library, builds on the ideas found in Gregersen’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) article of the same name, which received the 2009 McKinsey runner-up award for the best article in HBR.

Packed with examples of high-profile innovators (as well as low-profile ones), Gregersen’s presentations illustrate not only how successful innovators got their great ideas, but how they transformed them into economic powerhouses. He regularly delivers high-impact keynote speeches and executive workshops around the world with companies like Accenture, Adidas, AT&T, Christie’s, Cisneros, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Danone, Essilor, Genentech, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, LG, Lilly, McAfee, Marriott, MasterCard, Nokia, Philips, Sanofi Aventis, SAP, Time Warner Cable, Twinings, Vivendi, WalMart, World Economic Forum and Yahoo! He works with governments, not-for-profit and NGO organizations to generate greater innovation capabilities in the rising generation of leaders. Gregersen also collaborated with IDEO and Lightspeed Apollo, along with Christensen and Dyer, to produce a ground-breaking online learning experience, Innovator’s Accelerator, to teach anyone how to cultivate innovation within themselves and their organizations.

To grasp how leaders find and ask the right questions – ones that disrupt how we view and interact with the world – Gregersen is now studying over 100 renowned innovative leaders, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. This question-centric research project, conducted in collaboration with Clayton Christensen, is already surfacing insights into how leaders can build better questions to unlock game-changing solutions. Gregersen is also founder of the 4-24 Project, an initiative dedicated to rekindling the provocative power of asking the right questions in adults so they can pass this crucial creativity skill onto the next generation in order to improve organizations, communities and global society.

Gregersen has co-authored 10 books, including “It Starts With One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations” (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008) and “Global Explorers: The Next Generation of Leaders” (Taylor & Francis, 1999), and has published more than 70 articles, book chapters and cases on innovation and change in leading business journals such as HBR and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. His research has been highlighted globally on CNN, and in magazines and newspapers including Across the Board, Bloomberg Businessweek, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Psychology Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Gregersen and his wife have spent over a decade living and working outside the United States – in England, Finland, France and the UAE. Currently, they reside in Boston where he pursues his lifelong avocation, photography, and she her lifelong loves, sculpture and painting, as part of a global community of social entrepreneurs dedicated to creating positive change through the arts.

Videos

Articles

At The Altar Of Innovation: How ASOS Changed Our Commitment To Millennial Buyers

May 18, 2016

Mastering Difficult Situations Through Negotiation -- In Life And At Work

May 2, 2016

When Was the Last Time You Asked, Why Are We Doing It This Way?

April 1, 2016

Want to Foster Innovation? Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

March 18, 2016

The Basic Quality So Many Leaders Lack

January 7, 2016

Inc

A Blueprint for the First Work Days of 2016

January 4, 2016

How To Train Yourself To Excel In Uncomfortable Situations

November 6, 2015

Fortune logo

What VW Can Learn From Gen. Stanley McChrystal About Imperfect Leaders

October 14, 2015

Fortune logo

The One Skill That Made Amazon’s CEO Wildly Successful

September 17, 2015

Forbes logo

Decoding Tesla's Secret Formula

August 19, 2015

Forbes logo

How We Rank The World's Most Innovative Companies 2015

August 19, 2015

Fortune logo

The Surprising Way to Come Up with Your Next Business Idea

August 7, 2015

Fortune logo

How Richard Branson Turned His Passion into a Tangible Business

May 12, 2015

Make It OK for Employees to Challenge Your Ideas

May 6, 2015

Questions for Sparking a Management Voyage of Discovery

February 19, 2015

Wired logo

Business Brains Get Thinking

November 2014

Good Questions: A Conversation with Leadership Expert Hal Gregersen

October 10, 2014

Forbes logo

How Rod Drury Built Xero From A 'Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific' Into A Global Player

May 28, 2014

3 Ways to Build a Question-Centric Culture

February 14, 2014

Forbes logo

The Secret To Unleashing Genius

August 14, 2013

Forbes logo

The Secret to Keeping Your Company Alive

July 19, 2013

Use Catalytic Questioning to Solve Significant Problems

July 19, 2013

INSEAD Knowledge: Are Accountants and CFOs Killing Innovation?

March 7, 2013

Transform 2013 by Turning Goals into Questions

January 16, 2013

Forbes logo

How Innovative Leaders Maintain Their Edge

September 5, 2012

Crush the “I’m Not Creative” Barrier

May 7, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek logo

It’s Time to Diversify Diversity

April 24, 2012

The Innovator's DNA

December 2009

Biography

Hal Gregersen is committed to creating insight with impact. As Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, he pursues his vocation of learning how leaders in business, government and society discover provocative new strategies, develop the human and organizational capacity to realize those strategies, and ultimately deliver positive, powerful results. Putting insight into practice, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, motivational executive seminars and transformational coaching experiences. He is also a Senior Fellow at Innosight, a leading global innovation consulting firm, and a former advisory board member at Pharmascience, a privately held pharmaceutical company based in Montreal, Canada. Before joining MIT, he taught at INSEAD, London Business School, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Brigham Young University and in Finland as a Fulbright Fellow.

Gregersen’s most recent book, “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), uncovers the code for the successful innovator in business – and beyond. Unlike other books that help organizations simply maximize execution, “The Innovator’s DNA” demonstrates how execution alone can become a dead-end destination unless you cultivate enough competent innovators within your company to make crucial new discoveries. Co-authored with Jeff Dyer at Wharton/BYU and Clayton Christensen, the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” at Harvard Business School, “The Innovator’s DNA” comes from an eight-year international research project on the origins of disruptive innovations and how executives, entrepreneurs and employees build highly innovative companies. In collaboration with HOLT at Credit Suisse, Gregersen and his co-authors identified the 50 most innovative companies in the world and interviewed their founder entrepreneurs and current CEOs. They also conducted over 6,000 Innovator’s DNA survey assessments of leaders around the world to show how creativity skills generate valuable new products, services, processes and businesses. The book, named Book of the Year for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Chartered Management Institute in association with The British Library, builds on the ideas found in Gregersen’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) article of the same name, which received the 2009 McKinsey runner-up award for the best article in HBR.

Packed with examples of high-profile innovators (as well as low-profile ones), Gregersen’s presentations illustrate not only how successful innovators got their great ideas, but how they transformed them into economic powerhouses. He regularly delivers high-impact keynote speeches and executive workshops around the world with companies like Accenture, Adidas, AT&T, Christie’s, Cisneros, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Danone, Essilor, Genentech, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, LG, Lilly, McAfee, Marriott, MasterCard, Nokia, Philips, Sanofi Aventis, SAP, Time Warner Cable, Twinings, Vivendi, WalMart, World Economic Forum and Yahoo! He works with governments, not-for-profit and NGO organizations to generate greater innovation capabilities in the rising generation of leaders. Gregersen also collaborated with IDEO and Lightspeed Apollo, along with Christensen and Dyer, to produce a ground-breaking online learning experience, Innovator’s Accelerator, to teach anyone how to cultivate innovation within themselves and their organizations.

To grasp how leaders find and ask the right questions – ones that disrupt how we view and interact with the world – Gregersen is now studying over 100 renowned innovative leaders, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. This question-centric research project, conducted in collaboration with Clayton Christensen, is already surfacing insights into how leaders can build better questions to unlock game-changing solutions. Gregersen is also founder of the 4-24 Project, an initiative dedicated to rekindling the provocative power of asking the right questions in adults so they can pass this crucial creativity skill onto the next generation in order to improve organizations, communities and global society.

Gregersen has co-authored 10 books, including “It Starts With One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations” (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008) and “Global Explorers: The Next Generation of Leaders” (Taylor & Francis, 1999), and has published more than 70 articles, book chapters and cases on innovation and change in leading business journals such as HBR and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. His research has been highlighted globally on CNN, and in magazines and newspapers including Across the Board, Bloomberg Businessweek, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Psychology Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Gregersen and his wife have spent over a decade living and working outside the United States – in England, Finland, France and the UAE. Currently, they reside in Boston where he pursues his lifelong avocation, photography, and she her lifelong loves, sculpture and painting, as part of a global community of social entrepreneurs dedicated to creating positive change through the arts.

Speech Topics

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering Five Skills for New Market Creation

Is an innovator born or made? This is the question Hal Gregersen, along with Clayton Christensen and Jeff Dyer, set out to answer for their bestselling book, “The Innovator’s DNA.” Drawing on his firsthand conversations with game-changing founders and CEOs – and research from more than 10,000 creative leaders around the world – Gregersen discusses five key skills that innovators leverage to solve challenging problems, discover new markets and fuel economic growth. Gregersen also focuses attendees’ energy on actively developing these skills through brief, high-energy learning activities so they leave thinking and acting differently in their professional work and personal lives.

The CEO’s Dilemma: Asking the Right Questions (Before Someone Else Does)

Powerful organizational and industrial forces can keep any senior leader from asking (or hearing) uncomfortable questions, creating an answer-centric environment at his or her own peril. It’s what Hal Gregersen calls “The CEO’s Dilemma,” and in many ways, it’s everyone’s dilemma. In this session, Gregersen discusses how leaders and organizations can escape the innovator’s most dangerous blind spot, the space where “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Based on in-depth interviews with more than 100 of the world’s best question-asking leaders, he reveals four daily disciplines these leaders rely on to surface the right questions. Gregersen also helps audience members become better questioners in real time by sharing key questioning tools, helping them unlock solutions, innovations and processes.

Building a Sustainably Creative Company: Putting People, Processes & Philosophies to Work

Innovative leaders hold the power to create monumental impact throughout an organization by acting and thinking innovatively themselves. However, if leaders don’t empower others to do the same, the breadth of a company’s innovation capacity – and consequently, its growth potential – rises and falls with them alone. In this session, Hal Gregersen discusses how today’s most innovative leaders, including Pixar’s Ed Catmull, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, build a culture of innovation by decentralizing the source of ideas and instilling a creative capacity from the bottom up – and why it’s the single most important legacy leaders can leave behind. As Benioff put it, “It’s my job to create a culture of innovation.”

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Recommendations

“Hal Gregersen’s highly interactive 90-minute presentation on the Innovator’s DNA was the keynote presentation for an internal conference on innovation for our key executives, product managers, and marketing managers. Not only did Hal exceed our expectations, he held the entire audience spellbound. Hal’s combination of superior intellect, his willingness to share many years of scholarship and field work on innovation, his warm personal style, natural curiosity, and humility resonated exceptionally well with the audience and they rewarded him with their undivided attention and a standing ovation. Both during and after his presentation, our executives came up to me and praised everything about Hal and his message. Hal’s presentation set the tone for the rest of the conference and attendees referred to Hal’s concepts repeatedly over the next three days. I would recommend him to any company that is serious about becoming a leading innovator in your industry.”

Larry Yokell, CenturyLink

“Thank you for your inspiring keynote presentation during Confluence in Berlin. You were our highest-rated speaker and the highlight of the event for a lot of our attendees. You brought strategic insight, humour and practical advice that I know people will take home and use in their daily lives, as I have been doing.”

Claire Hockin, Infosys

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Gregersen, Hal