Thought-Leader on Innovation and Author, Seeing What's Next
Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Technology & Operations Management and General Management faculty groups. His research and teaching interests center on the management issues related to the development and commercialization of technological and business model innovation. Specific areas of focus include developing organizational capabilities and finding new markets for new technologies.
Professor Christensen holds a B.A. with highest honors in economics from Brigham Young University (1975), and an M.Phil. in applied econometrics and the economics of less-developed countries from Oxford University (1977), where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received an MBA with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School in 1979, graduating as a George F. Baker Scholar. He was awarded his DBA from the Harvard Business School in 1992.
Christensen has served as a director on the boards of a number of public and private companies. He is currently a board member at Tata Consulting Services (NSE: TCS), Franklin Covey (NYSE: FC) and Vanu, Inc. Christensen also serves on Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC). Christensen is the founder of Innosight LLC, a consulting and training company, focused on problems of strategy, innovation, and growth. He is also the founder of Rose Park Advisors, an alternative investment management firm, focused on companies affected by disruptive innovation.
Prior to joining the HBS faculty, Professor Christensen served as chairman and president of CPS Technologies (CPS), a firm he co-founded with several MIT professors in 1984. CPS is a leading developer of products and manufacturing processes using high-technology metals and ceramics such as silicon nitride and silicon carbide. From 1979 to 1984 he worked as a consultant and project manager with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where he was instrumental in founding the firm’s manufacturing strategy consulting practice. In 1982 Professor Christensen was named a White House Fellow, and served through 1983 (on a leave of absence from BCG) as assistant to U.S. Transportation Secretaries Drew Lewis and Elizabeth Dole.
Professor Christensen became a faculty member at the Harvard Business School in 1992. He taught courses in Technology and Operations Management, General Management, and Operations Strategy. He then developed a course called Managing Innovation. Professor Christensen currently teaches an elective course he designed called Building a Sustainably Successful Enterprise, which teaches managers how to build and manage an enduring, successful company or transform an existing organization. He also teaches in several HBS executive education programs, including Building New Ventures and Leading Change and Organizational Renewal.
Professor Christensen is the bestselling author of five books, including his seminal work The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) which received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year, The Innovator’s Solution (2003), and Seeing What’s Next (2004). Recently, Christensen has focused the lens of disruptive innovation on social issues such as education and health care. Disrupting Class (2008) looks at the root causes of why schools struggle and offers solutions, while The Innovator’s Prescription (2009) examines how to fix our healthcare system.
Professor Christensen’s writings have been featured in a variety of publications, and have won a number of awards, such as the Best Dissertation Award from The Institute of Management Sciences for his doctoral thesis on technology development in the disk drive industry; the Production and Operations Management Society’s 1991 William Abernathy Award, presented to the author of the best paper in the management of technology; the Newcomen Society’s award for the best paper in business history in 1993; and the 1995, 2001 and 2008 McKinsey Awards for articles published in the Harvard Business Review.
Professor Christensen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Republic of Korea from 1971 to 1973 and speaks fluent Korean. He continues to serve in his church in a variety of ways and is extensively involved in other activities in the community.
He served from 1986 to 1994 as a member of the Program Review Board and Strategic Planning Committee of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and was a member and chairman of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Affiliate of the American Diabetes Association between 1984 and 1996. Professor Christensen was also a founding board member of the Combined Health Appeal of Northeastern Massachusetts.
He was an elected member of the Town Meeting (council) in Belmont Massachusetts for eight years; served as vice-chairman of the town’s personnel board; and as chairman of its long-range financial planning task force. He has served the Boy Scouts of America for 25 years as a scoutmaster, cubmaster, den leader and troop and pack committee chairman. He and his wife Christine live in Belmont, MA. They are the parents of five children.
MOST REQUESTED TOPICS:
The Innovator’s Solution
Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
Clayton Christensen reveals that innovation is not as unpredictable as most managers have come to believe. While the outcomes of past innovations seem random, the process by which innovations are packaged and shaped within companies is very predictable. By understanding and managing the forces that influence this process, companies can shape high-octane business plans that create truly disruptive growth. Christensen demonstrates the effects “disruptive technology” has had on certain industries and outlines a framework to develop, implement and maintain a “well functioning disruptive growth engine”. His framework helps companies identify strategies and anticipate changes to help you stay ahead of the competition.
Capturing the Upside While Avoiding the Downside
Every company needs to grow, and innovation is the ticket to sustainable and profitable growth. What decisions can managers take to increase their probability of successfully building innovation-driven growth businesses? Many are convinced that it is impossible to predict with confidence whether an innovation will succeed, so they feel they need to place a number of bets with the hope that some will be winners. Others believe that the best way to create new growth businesses is to meticulously search for detailed quantitative data to identify opportunities and develop a rigorous plan to attack those opportunities. But many times conclusive data is only available after the game has already been won. Professor Clayton M. Christensen of the Harvard Business School has another way. He suggests using theory. A theory is a statement of what causes what and why. Whether managers know it or not, they are voracious consumers of theory. Every action a manager takes, every plan a manager makes is based on some belief of cause and effect.
Managers have historically struggled to successfully manage innovation. They get a bewildering array of often conflicting and confusing advice. What has been lacking is a collection of well-grounded theories that explain the actions managers should take in particular circumstances. Through his recent research, Professor Christensen has developed a set of theories to help guide managers as they seek to answer seven critical questions when trying to build new growth businesses, again and again.
Destructing the World Health Care Industry
Best-selling author Professor Clayton Christensen has taken his essential principle of Disruptive Innovation Theory, which states that companies innovate faster than people’s lives change, and applied it to the health care industry. Based on his extensive research for his upcoming book Diagnosing the Disease: A Disruptive Remedy for Health Care, Christensen’s presentation will challenge how your organization thinks about health care and the future of the industry. His speeches are customized to each organization and cover topics including:
- The likely prospects for today’s leading companies
- How entrenched companies can displace today’s leaders
- Why health care is expensive and inaccessible
- How to create new growth through affordability and simplicity
- How to circumvent the rules