Friday, October 28, 2011

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering The Five Skills Of Disruptive Innovators By Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
By Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

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Product Description

Are you the next Steve Jobs?

You could be as innovative and impactful—if you can change your behaviors to improve your creative impact.

In The Innovator's DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton Christensen (The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.

By identifying behaviors of the world's best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

Once you master these competencies (the authors provide a self assessment for rating your own innovator's DNA), the authors explain how you can generate ideas, collaborate with colleagues to implement them, and build innovation skills throughout your organization to sharpen its competitive edge. That innovation advantage can translate into a premium in your company's stock price—an innovation premium—which is possible only by building the code for innovation right into your organization's people, processes, and guiding philosophies.

Practical and provocative, The Innovator's DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1387 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-07-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 304 pages
Editorial Reviews


"the book is easy to read, jammed with examples and, at a time when innovation is a beacon, offers an interesting model to consider." – Globe & Mail

"Businesses worldwide have been guided and influenced by The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution. Now The Innovator's DNA shows where it all starts. This book gives you the fundamental building blocks for becoming more innovative and changing the world. One of the most important books to come out this year, and one that will remain pivotal reading for years to come." – Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO,; author, Behind the Cloud

"The Innovator's DNA is the 'how to' manual to innovation, and to the fresh thinking that is the root of innovation. It has dozens of simple tricks that any person and any team can use today to discover the new ideas to solve the important problems. Buy it now and read it tonight. Tomorrow you will learn more, create more, inspire more." – Scott D. Cook, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit Inc.

"The Innovator's DNA sheds new light on the once-mysterious art of innovation by showing that successful innovators exhibit common behavioral habits—habits that can boost anyone's creative capacity." – Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me

"Having worked with Clayton Christensen on innovation for over a decade, I can see that The Innovator's DNA continues to stretch our thinking with insights that challenge convention and enable progress in the important cause of innovation . . . so critical to competitiveness and growth." – A.G. Lafley, retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company

About the Author

Jeffrey Dyer is the Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy at the Marriott School, Brigham Young University. He is widely published in strategy and business journals and was the fourth most cited management scholar in 1996-2006. Hal Gregersen is a professor of leadership at INSEAD. He consults to organizations around the world on innovation, globalization, and transformation and has published extensively in leading academic and business journals. Clay Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the architect of and the world's foremost authority on disruptive innovation.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful.
5"Where do disruptive ideas come from?"
By Karl @ The Startup Daily
Companies that are seen as innovators command an "innovation premium" in the market, and for good reason. These are the companies that not only adapt to changing conditions, but lead the way through them.

The five discovery skills--building blocks of innovation--that are identified in this book were arrived at through extensive research (8 years and over 100 interviews), which separates it from the bulk of the existing books on innovation that too often trumpet a methodology that worked in one case at one organization as being a universal solution.

The surprising revelation is that these five building blocks are behaviors, not traits that you are either born with or will never have. These are habits that can be learned and mastered through practice.

Although the ideas will be familiar to readers on creativity and innovation, they take on new meaning when presented in this context and prioritized based on the researcher's findings. For example, two of the five behaviors are universal and appear to be essential, while the other three showed up frequently, but not every one of those behaviors is practiced in every case.

The later part of this book gives practical ideas on how to integrate these habits into the 3P's (people, processes, and philosophies) of an organization.

I had high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint.

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful.
5Common Traits of Successful Innovators.
By AdamSmythe
I suspect that if this book is half as successful and influential as "The Innovator's Dilemma" (by Clayton Christensen, one of this book's three authors), then people will be quoting "The Innovator's DNA" for a long time. (If you haven't already read "The Innovator's Dilemma," I certainly recommend it, although it isn't a prerequisite.)

It is interesting that the authors chose "The Innovator's DNA" as their title, because when I think of DNA, I think of that which is hard-wired within us. However, perhaps the key point of this book is that our ability to create innovative ideas is not simply a function of the hard-wiring in our minds, but also an important function of our behaviors. This important point is based on the authors' extensive research (see below), which also shows that innovative companies are almost always led by innovative leaders. By the way, it's business creativity that the authors address, not artistic creativity.

So if we want to help start (or simply identify) innovative companies, we should focus on their leaders' behaviors. That's what constitutes the main thrust of this book. Through many interviews and detailed research the authors collected data from hundreds of innovators and thousands of executives (more data is on the authors' website), looking for the origins of innovative business ideas. The results of their study were first published in a leading academic journal, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, and then later published in another article that was the runner-up for the 2009 Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award. Ultimately, this book introduces the results to the general public, which will likely find it to be both understandable and enlightening. This is definitely not some dry academic study.

Many of the innovators (or their companies) studied for the book will be familiar to most readers: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Scott Cook (Intuit), Peter Thiel (PayPal), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Niklas Zennstrom (Skype) and many others.

Sure, all people are different (including innovators), but the authors' research shows that in most cases there are a number of common denominators within successful innovators. The flow of the authors' thinking is summarized nicely in a diagram on page 27. Simplifying, creative innovators (1) have the courage to innovate, as shown in their ability to challenge the status quo and take risks; (2) incorporate the behavioral skills of observing, questioning, networking and experimenting, which lead to (3) associative thinking that ultimately leads to innovative business ideas.

Interestingly, I think some of the book's chapter subtitles best summarize the various chapters' content. For example, rather than look at Chapter 2's formal title, "Discovery Skill # 1--Associating," consider the expressive subtitle, which is a quote from Steve Jobs: "Creativity is connecting things." Here are a few more chapter subtitles:

Chapter 3: "Question the unquestionable." (Ratan Tata, Tata Group)

Chapter 5: "What a person does on his own, without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of others, is even in the best of cases rather paltry and monotonous." (Albert Einstein, on collaboration/networking)

Chapter 6: "I haven't failed ... I've just found 10,000 ways that do not work." (Thomas Edison)

There's more, of course, but you get the idea. There are a number of helpful self-assessments in the book, along with a reasonably small number of clear charts and figures. All in all, the book is easy to read, hard to put down, and helpful not only for budding entrepreneurs, but also the rest of us.

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
5How and why disruptive innovators maximize creative impact
By Robert Morris

As is true of others who have written business books that also offer breakthrough insights, the authors of this one set out to answer an especially important question: "Where do disruptive business models come from?" What Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen concluded is shared in this book. It's too early to be certain, of course, but I think this book is destined to become a "business classic," as have so many of the other books that Christensen has authored or co-authored. It is worth noting that The Innovator's DNA emerged from an eight-year collaborative study, suggesting that its information, insights, and counsel are research-driven, anchored in the real world.

Some of the most valuable material was generated by interviews of dozens of "inventors of revolutionary products and services as well as founders and CEOs of game-changing companies build on innovative ideas." They also include what they learned from Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Howard Schultz (whom they did not interview) whose innovative thinking has transformed entire industries. "We wanted to understand as much about these people as possible, including the moment (when and how) they came up with the creative ideas that launched new products or businesses."

The title of this book refers to an aggregate of five primary discovery skills that enable various innovative entrepreneurs and executives to generate breakthrough ideas. "A critical insight from our research is that one's ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely the function of the mind, but also a function of behaviors. This is good news for us all because it means that if we change our behaviors, we can change our creative impact."

It should also be noting that an abundance of entrepreneurial research throughout the past 17-20 years reveals that, in terms of personality traits or psychometric measures, entrepreneurs do not differ significantly from typical (even traditional) business executives. My take is that almost anyone in almost any workplace can develop the five discovery skills. The extent and velocity of that development will largely depend on leadership. "The bottom line: If you want innovation [enterprise wide], you need creativity skills within the top management team of your company."

The co-authors include a disclaimer (sort of): "First, engaging in the discovery skills doesn't ensure financial success...Second, failure (in a financial sense) often results from not being vigilant in engaging all the discovery skills...Third, we spotlight different innovators and innovative companies to illustrate key ideas or principles, but not [repeat NOT] to set them up as perfect examples of how to be innovative."

The five Discovery Skills are hardly head-snappers: Associating with stimuli (mind, heart, and five senses); Questioning anything and everything, especially one's assumptions and premises; Observing with intent and intensity, noting what many others miss; Networking by connecting people as well as dots while accessing new (i.e. unfamiliar) resources; and Experimenting (e.g. test the untested, disassemble and deconstruct, prototype, add new knowledge). In the most innovative organizations or portions thereof, all five are institutionalized in terms of incentives and rewards, division of labor, allocating resources, transparency, cross-functional collaboration, recognition/celebration, and (yes) protection for prudent but bold risk-takers.

Not everyone is willing and/or able to thrive in such a culture. Disruption is by nature messy, unpredictable, confusing, upsetting, and often threatening. When Joseph Schumpeter introduced the process of "creative destruction," his ultimate objective was, in fact, creative creation. Just as Albert Einstein urges us to make everything as simple as possible but no simpler, Schumpeter urges us to destroy everything except what is essential...and then build on that. The authors of this book urge us to strengthen the five skills through individual and team initiatives that are guided and informed by a business model that, if it is designed properly, will be continuously self-disruptive.


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