How to hire your employer

18. October 2016

Published on October 12, 2016

Featured in: Big Ideas & Innovation, Careers: The Next Level, Editor’s Picks, Entrepreneurship, LinkedIn

, Professor at Harvard Business School

My new book, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, debuted this past week, but it’s work that’s been nearly two decades in the making. For years my research has focused on understanding why good companies so often fail, a quest that led me to write The Innovator’s Dilemma years ago. But as I tried to answer that question, a new and pressing one emerged: how can companies know how to grow? The answer, I believe, lies in getting at the causal mechanism of customer choice – knowing why consumers make the choices they do to pick one product or service over another. To understand this, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a critical question to ask: “What job did you hire that product to do?”

For me, this is a neat idea. When we buy a product, we are essentially ‘hiring’ it to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we are confronted with the same job, we hire that same product again. And if the product does a crummy job, we ‘fire’ it and look around for something else we might hire to solve the problem. Every day stuff happens to all of us. Jobs arise in our lives that we need to get done. When we realize we have a job to do, we reach out and pull something into our lives to get the job done. When we ‘hire’ something to get a job done, we’re striving to make progress where we’ve been struggling. Jobs are not just functional – getting something done. They have critical social and emotional dimensions, too. Framing the question in this way has been a key to growth for companies as diverse as Intuit’s TurboTax, Khan Academy, and BuzzFeed. Read the rest of this entry »

Disrupting Mr Disrupter

28. November 2015

Date: 26-11-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Christensen CCClay Christensen should not be given the last word on disruptive innovation

TWENTY years ago a then obscure academic at Harvard Business School published a career-making article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), warning established companies that they were in grave danger from being disrupted. Today Clay Christensen is an established company in his own right. He is regularly named as the world’s most influential management guru (his Harvard colleagues affectionately call him Mr Disrupter). He has applied his theory to an ever-wider range of subjects with books such as “Disrupting Class” (on education) and “The Innovator’s Prescription” (on health). He even has his own consulting operation to help him stretch his brand. Businesspeople everywhere treat him as a guide on how to cope with change. But the risk is that by paying too much attention to his theory, they will miss other disruptive threats. Read the rest of this entry »

Die Zukunft der Berater

17. January 2014


Die Zukunft der Berater

Von Clayton M. Christensen, Dina Wang und Derek van Bever, Harvard Business Manager, 15/1

Die Consulting-Branche verdient ihr Geld damit, Unternehmen beim richtigen Umgang mit strategischen Bedrohungen zu unterstützen. Jetzt gerät sie selbst in Gefahr.

Jahrelang hatten sich die Berater von McKinsey & Company mit ihrer Situation auseinandergesetzt. Sie hatten Diskussionen geführt und Analysen erstellt. Im Jahr 2007 schritten sie dann zur Tat. Die globale Beratungsfirma startete eine Reihe von Geschäftsmodellinnovationen, die das Verhältnis zu ihren Kunden grundlegend verändern könnten. Eine der spannendsten ist McKinsey Solutions: software- und technologiebasierte Analysewerkzeuge, die sich in die Systeme von Kunden integrieren lassen. Sie ermöglichen eine Zusammenarbeit auch über die traditionellen Projekte hinaus. Mit McKinsey Solutions entbündelte das Unternehmen zum ersten Mal seine Angebote und machte sein Wissen in Form von Produkten zugänglich.

McKinsey und andere Beratungsfirmen haben sich zwar schon häufiger neu aufgestellt – von universeller zu funktionaler Ausrichtung, von lokalen zu globalen Strukturen und von eng zusammenhängenden Teams zu miteinander vernetzten Experten an unterschiedlichen Orten. Der Start von McKinsey Solutions aber ist etwas gänzlich Neues, denn erstmals geht es nicht mehr darum, Berater zu entsenden.

Doch warum investiert ein Unternehmen, dessen wichtigstes Wertversprechen auf fundierten Urteilen und maßgeschneiderten Diagnosen beruht, in eine solche Neuerung – wo doch sein Kerngeschäft bislang noch floriert? Zum einen verspricht McKinsey Solutions kürzere Projekte mit einem klareren Return on Investment, die helfen, in wirtschaftlichen Schwächephasen Umsätze sowie Marktanteil zu bewahren. Zudem kann die Beratung, wenn sie proprietäre Analyseinstrumente beim Kunden einrichtet, dort auch in der Zeit zwischen zwei Projekten präsent bleiben. Das verbessert die Chancen auf zukünftige Aufträge. Diese geschäftlichen Vorteile dürften für die Entscheidung von McKinsey eine Rolle gespielt haben. Doch letztlich, so glauben wir, ging es um noch viel mehr: McKinsey Solutions ist als Absicherung gegen eine mögliche Disruption der klassischen Beratungsarbeit gedacht. Read the rest of this entry »

Clay Christensen’s Life Lessons

5. May 2012

Date: 05-05-2012
Source: Businessweek

 Christensen with four of his grandchildren in Belmont, Mass.

On a warm April evening, Clayton Christensen arrived at his home in Belmont, Mass., desperate for a peanut butter sandwich. Christensen is diabetic, and with his blood sugar low, he seemed out of sorts. As he crushed the sandwich in a few massive bites, it had the effect on him that spinach does on Popeye. No longer confused about why a reporter had been waiting on his stoop, the 60-year-old Harvard Business School professor and celebrated author of The Innovator’s Dilemma began to form his thoughts with two distractingly huge hands. He said that he’d sometimes regretted calling his most admired theory “disruptive innovation,” because the disruptive part strikes some as more alarming than advantageous. He confided that he read the entire World Book Encyclopedia by age 12. And he shared two intimate encounters he’d had with God, including one on the eve of a “widow-maker” heart attack in 2007, the first of three life-threatening health issues in as many years.

At the turn of the century, The Innovator’s Dilemma became a surprise best-seller and a holy book for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, where Christensen’s theory arrived ready-made to explain what Internet companies were going to do to established businesses. Andy Grove swore by it. Steve Jobs admired it, although Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, points out that Christensen predicted that if Apple kept on using only its own software, the iPod would likely remain a “niche product.” Read the rest of this entry »

Think different

11. August 2011

DaDate: 11-08-2011

 Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Clay Christensen lays down some rules for innovators. But can innovation be learned?

INNOVATION is today’s equivalent of the Holy Grail. Rich-world governments see it as a way of staving off stagnation. Poor governments see it as a way of speeding up growth. And businesspeople everywhere see it as the key to survival.

Which makes Clay Christensen the closest thing we have to Sir Galahad. Fourteen years ago Mr Christensen, a knight of the Harvard Business School, revolutionised the study of the subject with “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, a book that popularised the term “disruptive innovation”. This month he publishes a new study, “The Innovator’s DNA”, co-written with Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, which tries to take us inside the minds of successful innovators. How do they go about their business? How do they differ from regular suits? And what can companies learn from their mental habits? Mr Christensen and his colleagues list five habits of mind that characterise disruptive innovators: associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting. Innovators excel at connecting seemingly unconnected things. Read the rest of this entry »