Clayton M. Christensen was a Harvard professor whose pioneering 1997 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” outlined his theories about the impact of what he called “disruptive innovation” on leading companies and catapulted him to iconic status as a management guru, passed on Thursday 23rd January in a Boston hospital. He was 67.
He had previously worked as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and co-founded an advanced materials company before joining the Harvard faculty in 1992, deciding he was better suited as an analyst than as an executive.
He broke ground with his assertion that the factors that facilitated success for the best companies were also the reasons some of those same companies failed.
“The Innovator’s Dilemma,” which The Economist called one of the six most important business books ever written, was published in the late 1990s during the technology boom. It proclaimed Professor Christensen’s assertion that the factors that help the top companies succeed — listening responsively to customers, investing aggressively in technology products that satisfied customers’ next-generation needs — are the same reasons some of these companies fail.
Andy Grove, then the chief executive of Intel, said at an industry conference about a year after “The Innovator’s Dilemma” was published that it was the most important book he had read in 10 years.
Prof. Clayton Christensen through his research and teachings, shaped the practice of business and influenced generations of students and scholars.
Not many academics were able to live an exemplary life as his and strike a balance. According to Rebecca Henderson, a fellow Harvard Business School professor, Professor. Christensen is “a shining example of the way in which it’s possible to be an academic but have a real impact on practice.’’
His ideas and theories had generated enormous revenue for the top companies like Apple and Mc Donald’s and will continue to do so as his assertions remain relevant till this day.