Clay Christensen

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Foremost Authority on Innovation and Father of Disruptive Innovation Theory; Author of Revolutionary Book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”; Co-Author of the Forthcoming “The Prosperity Paradox” (2019)

Biography

“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 In 2014, his HBR article, “The Capitalist’s Dilemma,” urges leaders on the Hill to evaluate outdated policies and embrace counterintuitive measures that can help improve our global economies.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 New York Times 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.

Clayton Christensen is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty

(HarperBusiness, January 2019)

How Disruptive Innovation Can Finally Revolutionize Healthcare

(Christensen Institute, Spring 2017)

Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

(Harper Business, October 2016)

The Clayton M. Christensen Reader

(Harvard Business Review Press, February 2016)

Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution

(Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, July 2014)

Is K–12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An Introduction of the Theory of Hybrids

(Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, May 2013)

How Will You Measure Your Life?

(HarperCollins, May 2012)

The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out

(Jossey-Bass, July 2011)

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

(Harvard Business School Publishing, July 2011)

The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care

(McGraw-Hill, December 2008)

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

(McGraw-Hill, May 2008)

Seeing What's Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change

(Harvard Business Review Press, September 2004)

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

(Harvard Business School Press, September 2003)

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

(Harvard Business School Press, 1997)

Media

Forbes logo

Go Electric: Innovation Guru Clayton Christensen's Advice To South Africa

October 30, 2018

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

Let's Not Simply End Poverty. Let's Ignite Prosperity

October 17, 2018

Harvard Business School Professor: Half of American Colleges Will be Bankrupt in 10 to 15 Years

August 30, 2018

B2B Next Speaker Spotlight: Harvard's Clay Christensen on 'Disruptive Innovation'

July 10, 2018

Harvard Business Review logo

The Innovation Health Care Really Needs: Help People Manage Their Own Health

October 30, 2017

Huffington Post logo

Digital Transformation – Part IV: The Two Big Jobs To Be Done

October 7, 2017

How Hospitals Innovate Incorrectly, According to Clayton Christensen

October 1, 2017

What the Banking Industry Can Learn from Nokia's Demise

September 25, 2017

The hill logo

Holistic Care Teams Can Finally Revolutionize Healthcare

July 10, 2017

How Disruptive Innovation Can Finally Revolutionize Healthcare

May 30, 2017

Inc. logo

This Brilliant Harvard Professor Will Change the Way You Think About Products

April 6, 2017

Forbes logo

Clay Christensen's Surprising Take On Ikea, Google And Milkshakes

March 3, 2017

Knowledge @ Wharton logo

Why Marketers Often Miss the Mark in Product Innovations

November 3, 2016

American Enterprise Institute logo

Innovation, Economic Growth, and Corporate ‘Short-Termism’: A Q&A with Business Guru Clayton Christensen

October 14, 2016

Linkedin Logo

What Job Did You Hire Your Job To Do?

October 12, 2016

Washington Post logo

What This Harvard Innovation Guru Thinks Can Protect Companies From Disruption

October 5, 2016

Forbes logo

Clayton Christensen On What He Got Wrong About Disruptive Innovation

October 3, 2016

Wall Street Journal logo

Clayton Christensen Has a New Theory

September 30, 2016

Clay Christensen on Competing Against Luck

September 1, 2016

Know the Job Your Product Was Hired for (with Help from Customer Selfies)

June 6, 2016

Inc

The Happy Entrepreneur

January 18, 2016

Harvard Business Review logo

What Is Disruptive Innovation?

December 2015

The Father of 'Disruption' Theory Explains Why Netflix is The Perfect Example — And Uber Isn't

November 18, 2015

The Power of Market Creation

January/February 2015

Harvard Business Review logo

The Capitalist’s Dilemma

June 2014

Speech Topics

The Innovator’s Dilemma – and Solution

Professor Clayton Christensen has long believed – and proven – that successful, outstanding companies can do everything “right” and yet still lose their competitive edge, or even fail, as new, unexpected competitors rise and take over the market. His seminal theory of disruptive innovation, first introduced more than three decades ago, has changed the way managers and CEOs around the world think about and create innovation. Professor Christensen builds on his groundbreaking research to help all companies understand how to become disruptors themselves. He provides clear advice on the business decisions crucial to truly disruptive growth, drawing from in-depth, real world examples across multiple industries.

Competing Against Luck: Do You Know What Jobs Your Customers are Hiring You to Do?

Year after year, we collectively spend hundreds of billions of dollars developing new products and services in the hope that they will succeed. And, year after year, we find that most of these efforts fail. For many managers, successful innovation is essentially a matter of luck.  But it doesn’t need to be that way, says Clay Christensen.  The key is understanding why our customers make the choices they make. As Christensen and his co-authors explore in their new book, “Competing Against Luck”, customers don’t buy products and services. They hire them to do a job. And knowing the job brings order and predictability to the swirl of innovation.  He delves deep into several well-known companies that have done this right, explaining why no competitor has come close to copying IKEA in more than 40 years; how sleepy Southern New Hampshire University became one of the biggest success stories in continuing education of the last decade, and why Intuit’s Quick Books dominated the market just months after launching.  Don’t leave innovation to chance, urges Christensen. As he discusses, Jobs to be Done isn’t innovation jargon; it’s based on his rigorously researched theory that explains what causes customers to do what they do. This causal mechanism is that every day, jobs arise in their lives that they need to resolve. He describes how managers can learn what these jobs are, and how they might develop a product that nails them well.  Once you understand this, he shows, developing exciting new innovations becomes quite predictable.

A Groundbreaking Prescription for Health Care Reform

It’s no secret our health care system is in critical condition. Each year, fewer Americans can afford it, fewer businesses can provide it, and fewer government programs can promise it for future generations. We need a cure – stat. The challenges the system faces – making health care affordable and conveniently accessible to most people – is not unique to this industry. “Almost every industry began with services and products that were so complicated and expensive to provide that only people with a lot of skill and a lot of money could participate,” Professor Christensen explains. “The transformational force that has brought affordability and accessibility to other industries is disruptive innovation.” He applies the principles of his renowned theory to health care, examines the challenges, and proposes a set of clear, actionable solutions that use the advances of technology to both reduce the cost of care and lead to improved health outcomes for millions.

Disrupting Class: Changing the Way the World Learns Through Innovation

The way we learn doesn’t match up with the way we are taught. If we hope to stay competitive – academically, economically and technologically – we must reevaluate our educational system, rethink our approach to learning, and reinvigorate our commitment to learning. We need disruptive innovation, argues Professor Clayton Christensen. Everyone across the education sector (K-12 through higher education) benefits from understanding why and how to apply the theory’s principles. From online learning to blended learning and hybrid models, Professor Christensen dissects the unprecedented opportunities of a more personalized approach to learning. He discusses not only how the transformation to a student-centric education system could play out, but what educators, policymakers and others must do to ensure it realizes its promise.

Media

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Social Media

Biography

“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 New York Times 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.

Clayton Christensen is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Books & Research

Array

Recommendations

“Clayton Christensen’s books on innovation are mandatory reading at Netflix.”

—Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix

 

Competing Against Luck is a genuine game-changer. Based on Clay Christensen’s theory of Jobs to Be Done, Competing Against Luck is filled with compelling real world examples, including from inside Intuit, which will challenge even the most experienced innovator to truly understand why customers make the choices they make. The theory of Jobs to Be Done has had – and will continue to have – a profound influence on Intuit’s approach to innovation.  It just might change yours, too.”

—Scott Cook, Co-founder & Chairman of Intuit

“Clayton was everything we expected: provocative, persuasive, timely, easy to listen to and understand, provided a great deal of business understanding to our audience, and was an ideal standard setter for our three-day event. Everyone felt that they learned something new which was important to their work and our Innovation in Learning Summit. He also tailored the presentation to our petroleum industry audience. We recommend him very highly to others who may need his presence at their special event.”

—David Donohue, President, IHRDC

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A-Z Name

Christensen, Clay

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