Clayton M. Christensen
Clay is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches one of the most popular elective classes for second year students. He is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth and his ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world. A 2011 cover story in Forbes magazine noted that ‘’Every day business leaders call him or make the pilgrimage to his office in Boston, Mass. to get advice or thank him for his ideas.’’ In 2011 in a poll of thousands of executives, consultants and business school professors, Christensen was named as the most influential business thinker in the world.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Clay worked as a missionary for his church in the Republic of Korea from 1971 to 1973, where he learned to speak fluent Korean. He continues to serve in his church in as many ways as he can.
His undergraduate studies were in economics at Brigham Young University, where he was awarded highest honors. He then completed an M.Phil. in applied econometrics from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received an MBA with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School in 1979, graduating as a George F. Baker Scholar. In 1982 Professor Christensen was named a White House Fellow, and served as assistant to U.S. Transportation Secretaries Drew Lewis and Elizabeth Dole. He was awarded his DBA from the Harvard Business School in 1992, and became a faculty member there the same year. He was awarded a full professorship with tenure in 1998. He is cofounder of the innovation consulting firm Innosight. He holds five honorary doctorates and an honorary chaired professorship at the Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
Clay is the best-selling author of eight books and more than a hundred articles. The Innovator’s Dilemma received the Global Business Book Award as the best business book of the year (1997); and in 2011 The Economist named it as one of the six most important books about business ever written. His other articles and books have received the Abernathy, Newcomen, James Madison, and Circle Prizes. Five times he has received the McKinsey Award, given to the two best articles published in the Harvard Business Review each year; and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribeca Films Festival (2010).
Clay has served in the Boy Scouts of America for 25 years as a scoutmaster, cubmaster, den leader, troop and pack committee chairman. He and his wife Christine live in Belmont, in Massachusetts. They are the parents of five children and grandparents to five grandchildren.
James was in the class the semester Clay was diagnosed with cancer — and part of the original class conversation that led to the article in Harvard Business Review, and in turn, this book. As he neared the end of his master’s degree program at HBS, Clay asked James if he would consider staying on at HBS after graduation to work with him as a fellow in the Forum for Growth and Innovation. This book is a direct result of that work. James earned his MBA from HBS in 2010 having been named a Baker Scholar, a distinction which signals the top 5 percent of all graduates.
A native of Australia, he was born in Sydney, and grew up in Canberra (which, he keeps reminding his American friends, is actually the capital of the country). Between high school and university, he spent a gap year working at a school in London, before returning to Australia to undertake studies at the Australian National University, graduating with first class honors.
After finishing university, he joined consulting firm Booz & Company, where he spent time throughout Australia and South East Asia — including a year long stint in Thailand, and six months in Indonesia. He had the opportunity to join the board of Conservation Volunteers Australia, a non-profit dedicated to preservation of the natural environment. Since being in the US, he has worked at Apple in their retail strategy team; and is a regular writer for HBR.org, with a particular interest in the subjects of disruption, consumer technology and intellectual property.
Outside of work, James loves travel — having visited 5 of the 7 continents (Africa and Antarctica still to go) — the more off the beaten path, the better. In recent years, he has visited Laos, Iceland, and Bhutan. He invests a lot of time in photography, and like a lot of other Australians, he loves to swim (his favorite swim ever was the 16 kilometers between Bondi Beach and Watson’s Bay in Sydney Harbor.) He has volunteered in Costa Rica at a Turtle Hatchery, walked 100 kilometers to raise money for Oxfam (it took 24 hours), and can be found on any given day biking through Cambridge for the perfect cup of coffee.
Until she began working on this book, Karen was the Editor of Harvard Business Review, arguably the most influential management magazine in the world. She was one of only 5 people selected for the company’s designated high-potential “Leadership Cohort” development program in 2008. She has been managing people since very early in her career, which has led to a particular interest in the topics of leadership and managing and developing people — as well as managing yourself. During her tenure at HBR it has twice been honored as a finalist for General Excellence at the National Magazine Awards.
Prior to joining HBR, she was deputy editor of Inc., a monthly magazine for entrepreneurs, for which she managed its 37-person editorial staff. Previously she was editor and publisher of the critically acclaimed The American Lawyer, which was also honored repeatedly by the National Magazine Awards during her tenure. While at The American Lawyer, she also spent four years in London as the editor of its European affiliate, Legal Business, which was named Editorial Team of the Year by the U.K. Press Gazette in 1994. She was also named Feature Writer of the Year runner-up by the U.K. Press Gazette in 1993.
Her first job in journalism was that of fact-checker — the lowest of the low in the New York magazine world’s pecking order. But that, she thinks, may have been her toughest job ever. She subsequently worked her way up the masthead, holding every possible editorial title at some point. As Karen puts it, she’s never asked someone who worked for her to do something she hasn’t done herself at some time. She takes enormous pride in the fact that many people who once worked for her have gone on to prominent careers in the media industry. She is currently a contributing editor to Harvard Business Review.
A native of Reading, Massachusetts, Karen is a graduate of Cornell University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She was a long-time member of the media advisory committee the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. ICIC’s mission is to build healthy economies in America’s inner cities. In 2011 she was honored as part of Ashoka ChangemakeHER’s inaugural celebration of the world’s most influential and inspiring women.
In 2011 she moved to London with her British husband and two daughters in order to raise children with a more global perspective of the world. Her much-loved profession is editor and writer, but her calling in life is being a mom.