Clayton Christensen Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Clayton Christensen      

Foremost Authority on Innovation and Father of Disruptive Innovation Theory; Author of Revolutionary Book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”

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 In 2014, his HBR article, “The Capitalist’s Dilemma,” urges leaders on the Hill to evaluate outdated policies and embrace counterintuitive measures that can help improve our global economies.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

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 best-selling book, “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

Speech Topics

Disruptive Innovation: Changing the Way the World Learns

The way we learn doesnt always match up with the way we are taught. If we hope to stay competitive, academically, economically, and technologically, we need to rethink our understanding of intelligence, reevaluate our educational system, and reinvigorate our commitment to learning. In other words, we need disruptive innovation. Clayton Christensen analyzes the education debate and applies his now-famous theory of disruptive change to help audiences consider new possibilities. Whether youre a school administrator, government official, business leader, parent, teacher, or entrepreneur, youll discover surprising new ideas, outside-the-box strategies, and straight-A success stories. Audiences gain an understanding of:

How customized learning will help many more students succeed in school

Why student-centric classrooms will increase the demand for new technology

Why computers must be disruptively deployed to every student

How disruptive innovation can circumvent roadblocks that have prevented other attempts at school reform

Destructing the World Health Care Industry

Close to 50 million Americans live without health insurance while the global scenario is decidedly grim as millions die needlessly from treatable diseases. World leaders, including President Obama, consider health care to be a major diplomatic and domestic priority. What will it take; however, to cure the enormous health care challenges? The anecdote may lie in our collective ability to adopt disruption change. 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 book The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution 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

Innovators Dilemma Expanded: Seven Questions and Answers to Success

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 success? Managers have historically struggled to successfully manage innovation. The dilemma as described by Clayton Christensen, a giant in the world of innovators, is how to serve your core business while finding new markets and watching out for new entrants in your blind spot. Based on his seminal book, The Innovators Dilemma, considered by many to be the hallmark text on innovation by executive and entrepreneurs alike, Clayton Christensen has developed a set of theories to help guide managers when trying to build new growth businesses. In this relevant and timely presentation, Christensen coaches managers on how to sustain success by answer seven critical questions:

How can I beat powerful competitors?

How can I connect with customers?

How integrated should I be?

How should I set strategy?

From whom should I get funding?

Where should the innovation reside?

What is the role of the CEO?


Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism | Wired ...

The world is awash in capital, Clayton Christensen says, but lacking in the innovation it needs for progress.Photo: Joe Pugliese/August Related O.

Clayton Christensen Talks Venture Capital, Crowd Funding, And ...

Editor's note: Derek Andersen is the founder of Startup Grind, a 40-city community bringing the global startup world together while educating,..

'Hybrid innovation': Clayton Christensen Institute introduces new ...

Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor credited with ... The paper was announced by the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive ...


No. 2. The Disruptive Guru: At No. 2 in the 2015 Thinkers50 ranking is Clayton Christensen, who topped the ranking in 2011 and 2013. Christensen is the author of several best-selling books including his classic The Innovator’s Dilemma. The book introduced the idea of disruptive innovation to a generation of managers and explained why the management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it hard for companies to develop the disruptive technologies that others may use to steal away their markets.

Related Speakers View all

More like Clayton