Famous for his theory on ‘disruptive innovation’, Clayton Magleby Christensen detected the most intractable problem in all capitalism of why great companies die and what leads to its losses and eventual death. Spindly and soft-spoken, Christensen tries to put through the messages with a dry wit that would efficiently impart the message without being very devastating. Gauged amongst the top experts on innovation and growth, he has served as a director for various companies and helped them generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue each year by offering guidance on products and service innovations inspired by his research.
Post completing his MBA from Harvard University, Christensen began working as a consultant and project manager for the Boston Consulting Group in 1979. After three years of brief stint there, he moved on to work in Washington DC as an assistant to the US Secretary of Transportation. Post two years of service as an assistant, Christensen proceeded and began his own advanced ceramics company with several professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as the CEO there through the 80s; post which he returned to Harvard to pursue his doctoral study in business administration.
His famous work ‘disruptive innovations’, advocated the process by which new products or systems compete for the lower end of a market, then compete successfully with established businesses by enhancing in quality. His works also professed that leaders can respond to such “disruptive innovations” by focusing on their organisation’s core task/goal, while down the road simultaneously try to figure out better ways to achieve success. Even though technology available to get the job done has changed quite dramatically, the job itself remains quite unchanged. It is necessary for leaders to adopt the evolving technologies before the old one is obsolete. It is also essential to set up a separate business unit to pursue new technologies to cultivate it and build it for easy adoption through the entire process. He accentuated, “Motivation is the catalysing ingredient for every successful innovation. The same is true for learning.”
His works conveyed that irrespective of whether a company is successful for decades with established products, it can get pushed aside in the market if managers don’t know when to abandon traditional practises. Christensen cited, “To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building and preparing the right organisation for the job as well.”