Clayton Christensen’s insights will outlive him

“WHEN I DIE and they’re going to interview me outside of heaven to decide let me in,” Clayton Christensen once told an Economist conference, “I’m going to start by saying ‘I’ve got some questions for you first’.” Mr Christensen, who died of leukaemia on January 23rd, aged 67, was endlessly seeking answers. The most important, to the question “why do great firms fail?”, inspired “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. The book, published in 1997, popularised the idea of disruptive innovation. It made the Harvard Business School professor the most influential management thinker of his time.

He disliked the term “guru”. It sat awkwardly with him, as he sat awkwardly on stage: a lanky two-metre-tall Mormon who laced conversations with exclamations like “Holy Cow!” and knotted his fingers together as if trying to stop his enthusiasm from bounding out. He was the antithesis of Silicon Valley’s self-promoters who, often in his name, turned innovation and disruption into the most overhyped words in business. Still, unlike most management theories, which live and die like fruit flies, his will outlast him.

Its compelling simplicity caught the zeitgeist just as the disruptive power of the internet was taking hold. It was not wholly new. As management thought goes, disruptive innovation is no double-entry...

via Business Feeds

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