Hal Gregersen

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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. He challenges organizations and individuals to question the way we think and act to build a better, more creative world. 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. While Hal’s expertise spans across all areas of innovative leadership, asking the right questions cuts deeply across all of his work. To grasp how leaders find and ask the right questions – ones that disrupt how we view and interact with the world – Gregersen has deeply researched and interviewed more than 200 renowned innovative leaders, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. His question-centric research project to surface insights into how leaders can build better questions to unlock game-changing solutions helped define Gregersen’s Catalytic Questioning methodology. Gregersen is the 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. Putting insight into practice, he is the creator of the unique executive education experience “

An accomplished author, Gregersen has co-authored ten books. His 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. Co-authored with Jeff Dyer and Clayton Christensen, the book comes from an eight-year international research project where they explored where disruptive innovations come from by interviewing founder entrepreneurs and CEOs at 100+ of the most innovative companies in the world and assessing how 8,000+ leaders leverage five key innovation skills to create 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, served as a gateway to a number of initiatives to commercialize the Innovator’s DNA framework, including the creation of Forbes “World’s Most Innovative Companies” and “World Most Innovative Growth Companies” lists and “The Innovation’s Accelerator” online learning experience (in partnership with the Apollo Group and its subsidiary, University of Phoenix).

Ranked as one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, motivational executive seminars and transformational coaching experiences. He also works with a diverse set of companies to help them master the challenges of innovation and change, from Chanel to IBM to the World Economic Forum. 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.

Gregersen has published more than 50 articles, book chapters, and cases on leading innovation and change (with over 10,000 citations by other scholars). His research has been highlighted in global media such as BBC, CNN, The Economist, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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 and his wife have spent more than 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.

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

Videos

Articles

Forbes logo

Behind Rightmove's Extraordinary Growth

May 17, 2017

We Need to Ask How We Can Make Economic Growth More Inclusive

April 25, 2017

The Atlantic logo

Being Quiet Is Part of Being a Good CEO

March 2, 2017

Harvard Business Review logo

Bursting the CEO Bubble

February 22, 2017

Leading Across Boundaries: Respect, Leadership and the Future Of Work

December 2, 2016

Harvard Business Review logo

What Great Leaders Can Learn from Great Photographers

October 4, 2016

Forbes logo

Tesla's Innovations Are Transforming the Auto Industry

August 24, 2016

Forbes logo

How We Rank The Most Innovative Companies 2016

August 24, 2016

Financial Times logo

Who Could Fill the Brexit Leadership Vacuum?

July 6, 2016

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

Harvard Business Review logo

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

Inc

Be Smarter Than Our Presidential Candidates: Know Your Blind Spots

February 10, 2016

How The Most Successful People Ask Questions

February 8, 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

Harvard Business Review logo

Make It OK for Employees to Challenge Your Ideas

May 6, 2015

Harvard Business Review logo

The Innovator's DNA

December 2009

Biography

Hal Gregersen is committed to creating insight with impact. He challenges organizations and individuals to question the way we think and act to build a better, more creative world. 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. While Hal’s expertise spans across all areas of innovative leadership, asking the right questions cuts deeply across all of his work. To grasp how leaders find and ask the right questions – ones that disrupt how we view and interact with the world – Gregersen has deeply researched and interviewed more than 200 renowned innovative leaders, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and P&G’s A.G. Lafley. His question-centric research project to surface insights into how leaders can build better questions to unlock game-changing solutions helped define Gregersen’s Catalytic Questioning methodology. Gregersen is the 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. Putting insight into practice, he is the creator of the unique executive education experience “

An accomplished author, Gregersen has co-authored ten books. His 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. Co-authored with Jeff Dyer and Clayton Christensen, the book comes from an eight-year international research project where they explored where disruptive innovations come from by interviewing founder entrepreneurs and CEOs at 100+ of the most innovative companies in the world and assessing how 8,000+ leaders leverage five key innovation skills to create 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, served as a gateway to a number of initiatives to commercialize the Innovator’s DNA framework, including the creation of Forbes “World’s Most Innovative Companies” and “World Most Innovative Growth Companies” lists and “The Innovation’s Accelerator” online learning experience (in partnership with the Apollo Group and its subsidiary, University of Phoenix).

Ranked as one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, motivational executive seminars and transformational coaching experiences. He also works with a diverse set of companies to help them master the challenges of innovation and change, from Chanel to IBM to the World Economic Forum. 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.

Gregersen has published more than 50 articles, book chapters, and cases on leading innovation and change (with over 10,000 citations by other scholars). His research has been highlighted in global media such as BBC, CNN, The Economist, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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 and his wife have spent more than 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.

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

Speech Topics

Bursting the CEO Bubble: Asking Catalytic Questions – Before It’s Too Late

Powerful organizational and industrial forces can keep any senior leader from hearing (or asking) uncomfortable questions, and creating a “good-news cocoon,” at his or her own peril. It’s what Hal Gregersen calls “The Leader’s Dilemma,” and it can be exceedingly dangerous in an era when dramatic market shifts can happen unexpectedly. 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 200 of the world’s best question-asking leaders, including Charles Schwab’s Walt Bettinger, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and General Stanley McChrystal, he reveals five 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 and helping them unlock solutions, innovations and processes.

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

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 15,000 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.

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

Intro Video

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IDEAS OUT LOUD - How to Build a Better Business in Four Minutes a Day / Start-Up City: Miami 2015