Inventor of "Disruptive Innovation" Dies

Updated: Jan 31

The man who gave the world the BS term of "disruptive innovation" has passed away after a long battle with cancer. Clayton Christensen died January 23rd at the age of 67. Widely considered one of the most influential voices in business management, Christensen coined disruptive innovation in a 1995 article in the Harvard Business Review. The BS Dictionary defines the term as follows: - - - - - - - - - disruptive innovation n. 1. A new product, service or idea whose application significantly affects the way a market or industry functions. 2. Shaking up a market or industry by introducing something completely new and different. 3. A process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge and gain competitive advantage over established incumbent businesses. BS Definition: Applying a term to your own work or business without fully appreciating that it truly isn't that disruptive. - - - - - - - - Christensen's concept of disruptive innovation influenced several Silicon Valley powerhouses like Netflix and Intel and has become a phrase that is commonly-used in the English-speaking world of business.


Jack Kelly of Forbes magazine gives this origin story of the man:


"Clayton Magleby Christensen was born on April 6, 1952, the second of eight children, in Salt Lake City. His father was a grocery manager of a department store and his mother was a high school English teacher. Family legend claims that Christensen read the entire World Book Encyclopedia in sixth grade.   He played high school and college basketball and served as a missionary in South Korea in the early 1970s. As an economics undergraduate at Brigham Young University—he turned down acceptance to Harvard and Yale in accordance with his mother’s wish and the result of his own meditations—and met his future wife, Christine Quinn, there. After he graduated from Brigham Young, Christensen became a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and received an M.B.A. degree at Harvard Business School.


Christensen went to work for the top-tier management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group. He left management consulting for a post as a White House Fellow, serving as assistant to two U.S. Secretaries of Transportation. Christensen helped found Ceramics Process Systems, a maker of materials used in microelectronics. He then joined the faculty of his long-term home and love, Harvard Business School, in 1992.


In his groundbreaking book that serves as a guide for finding meaning and happiness in life, How Will You Measure Your Life?, Christensen shares this prescient wisdom, “Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.” Christensen stood 6 feet 8 inches tall and was a devout Mormon and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Harvard Crimson reports he will be remembered " for his humility, patience, warmth, and eagerness to give his time to others." He is survived by his wife Christine, five children — Matthew, Ann, Michael, Spencer, and Catherine — and nine grandchildren.


We at The BS Dictionary thank Mr. Christensen for his contributions to the business world and wish his family peace as they process their grief.





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