Clayton Christensen died on January 23, 2020, aged 67, Wikipedia.

Clayton was a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, and is famous for his theories of “Disruptive Innovation” and “Jobs To Be Done.”

From all the accounts I have read and Youtube presentations (example) I have seen, not only was he an intellectual giant in the field of business studies, he was also a quietly-spoken and thoroughly nice guy.

I never had the privilege to meet Clayton, but I have bought and read The Innovators Dilemma and Competing Against Luck, as well as numerous papers readily available via the internet.

It was only yesterday that I felt compelled to share my knowledge of Clayton after I met a business consultant who had not heard of him.

In brief:

Disruptive Innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network, which eventually disrupts existing markets and value networks. It is often the case that incumbent businesses know well ahead of time that specific innovations are plausible, but everything about incumbent businesses is structured around and reinforces existing business models – there are few incentives to risk bonuses and careers on new products and services when so much rides on exploiting existing resources and capabilities.

The theory of Jobs To Be Done rests on the insight that customers only buy solutions so that they can make progress in achieving outcomes. Or, simply stated, customers have a need, and successful businesses fulfil that need.

Clayton’s insights are still relevant today. There are many people in business and many contemplating starting a business who are ‘following their passion’ as opposed to fulfiling a need through a viable Business Model. And then there are those who believe that they have a sustainable competitive advantage, that by doing what they have always done, but only better and faster this time around, that they will maintain their position in their market.

Ignore Clayton’s wisdom at your peril.

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