The Innovator's DNA
The Innovator's DNA

The Innovator's DNA

Clayton M. Christensen, Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen
Full Title
The Innovator's DNA
Last Highlighted
October 23, 2013 11:56 PM (CDT)
Last Synced
June 8, 2023 1:13 PM (CDT)

Imagine that you have an identical twin, endowed with the same brains and natural talents that you have. You’re both given one week to come up with a creative new business idea. During that week, you come up with ideas alone, just thinking in your room. By contrast, your twin (1) talks with ten people—including an engineer, a musician, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer—about the venture; (2) visits three innovative start-ups to observe what they do; (3) samples five “new to the market” products and takes them apart; (4) shows a prototype he’s built to five people, and (5) asks “What if I tried this?” and “What would make this not work?” at least ten times each day during these networking, observing, and experimenting activities. Who do you bet will come up with the more innovative (and usable) idea? My guess is that you’d bet on your twin, and not because he has better natural (genetic) creative abilities. Of course, the anchor weight of genetics is still there, but it is not the dominant predictor. People can learn to more capably come up with innovative solutions to problems by acting in the way that your twin did.

and then must pay attention to building the processes necessary to scale the idea.

Our research also found that disruptors rely on crafting the right questions to accomplish their work.

They started with a deep-sea-like exploration of what currently is and then rocketed to the skies for an equally compelling search for what might be. Focusing on what is, they asked lots of who, what, when, where, and how questions (as world-class journalists or investigators do) to dig beneath the surface and truly “know the place for the first time” (as poet T. S. Eliot observed). They also invoke a series of what-caused questions to grasp the drivers behind why things are the way they are. Collectively, these questions help describe the territory (physically, intellectually, and emotionally) and provide a launching pad for the next line of inquiry. To disrupt the territory, innovators puncture the status quo with why, why-not, and what-if questions that uncover counterintuitive, surprising solutions.

Over the years, we have found that great questioners have a high level of self-esteem and are humble enough to learn from anyone, even people who supposedly know less than they do.

Jonas Salk (discoverer of the first polio vaccine) made that “you don’t invent the answers, you reveal the answers” by “finding the right question.”

Tip #3:

Christensen has argued that customers—people and companies—have “jobs” that arise regularly and need to get done. When customers become aware of a job that they need to get done, they look around for a product or service that they can “hire.” When people have a job to do, they set out to hire something or someone to do the job as effectively, conveniently, and inexpensively as possible.

Note: What is the job 4.0 is doing for whom?

be done (transport families safely in a vehicle they could afford) and one about how to actually put a middle-class Indian in the driver’s seat (take the cars to the village markets and provide the necessary services so the customer could

Every job has a functional, a social, and an emotional dimension, and the relative importance

observers are more successful at figuring out jobs to be done and better ways to do them when they: (1) actively watch customers to see what products they hire to do what jobs, (2) learn to look for surprises or anomalies, and (3) find opportunities to observe in a new environment.

To battle that tendency, Cook says that “at Intuit we teach our people to ask these two questions as they observe: What is surprising? What is different from what you expected? That’s where true learning and innovation starts.”

What job are they trying to get done?

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