24 Mar 2010
Three Harvard Business School Professors Win McKinsey Awards
Gary Pisano, Willy Shih, and Clayton Christensen honored for best articles in Harvard Business Review in 2009
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BOSTON— Harvard Business School professors Gary P. Pisano, Willy C. Shih, and Clayton M. Christensen have won the 2009 McKinsey Awards from the Harvard Business Review and the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Established in 1959, the annual awards recognize the best articles published each year in the magazine.

Pisano and Shih took first-place honors for their July-August 2009 article "Restoring American Competitiveness." Second place went to Christensen and his coauthors, Jeffrey H. Dyer of Brigham Young University and Hal B. Gregersen of INSEAD, for "The innovator's DNA," which appeared in the December 2009 issue.

Gary Pisano
Photo: Alice Rosa
Willy Shih
Photo: Stuart Cahill

In their article, Pisano and Shih argue against U.S. companies' decision to outsource manufacturing in the mistaken belief that it holds no competitive advantage. As a result, they say, this country has lost not only its ability to develop and manufacture high-tech products like televisions, memory chips, and laptops, but also the expertise to produce emerging "hot products" such as the Kindle e-reader, high-end servers, solar panels, and the batteries that will power the next generation of automobiles. Restoring the ability of enterprises to develop and manufacture high-tech products in America is the only way the country can hope to pay down its enormous deficits and raise its citizens' standard of living.

Clayton Christensen
Photo: Russ Campbell

Christensen and his coauthors report the results of a six-year study to uncover the origins of creative business strategies in particularly innovative companies. Their research shows that five "discovery skills" - namely, associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking-- distinguish the most creative entrepreneurs from other executives. Associating helps entrepreneurs make connections among seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas. Questioning allows them to break out of the status quo. Observing the activities of customers, suppliers, and others enables them to gain insights about new ways of doing things. Experimenting leads to new experiences. And networking with diverse individuals from a wide array of backgrounds provides them with radically different perspectives. Not to worry if you're not born with innovator's DNA, they assert. This is something you can cultivate on your own.

The awards were determined by a panel of nine judges, including Elizabeth J. Altman, vice president, business development, Motorola; Vivienne Cox, chairman, Climate Change Capital; Patricia Fili-Krushel, executive vice president, administration, Time Warner; Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO, Pierre Fabre SA; Jeffrey Immelt (MBA 1982), chairman and CEO, General Electric; Dwaine Kimmert, treasurer and vice president, financial services, Home Depot; Rita Gunther McGrath, associate professor, Columbia Business School; Michael Shih-ta Chen (MBA 1972), executive director, HBS Asia-Pacific Research Center; and Russ Smyth, president and CEO, H&R; Block.

Gary Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration at HBS, where he has been a member of the faculty for 22 years. His research examines technology strategy, the management of innovation, organizational learning, outsourcing, and the management of intellectual property. He is the author of over 70 articles and case studies and six books, including Science Business: The Promise, the Reality and the Future of Biotech. He is currently writing a book on the challenges facing U.S. competitiveness in high-tech industries.

Professor of Management Practice Willy Shih joined the HBS faculty in 2007. Before that, he spent eighteen years in the computer industry, mostly in product development at IBM. He then managed Digital Equipment Corporation's microprocessor-based engineering workstation business and its Windows NT and UNIX marketing operations. A stint at Silicon Graphics Computer Systems followed before he became president of the Consumer Digital unit at Eastman Kodak. Most recently, he was executive vice president of Thomson in Paris, where he was cohead of its technology group.

Clayton Christensen is the School's Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration. A member of the HBS faculty since 1992, he is the author or coauthor of numerous articles and five books, including The Innovator's Dilemma, a seminal work that introduced the concept of disruptive technology and innovation. This was followed by The Innovator's Solution and Seeing What's Next. His most recent work examines the problems of education (Disrupting Class) and health care (The Innovator's Prescription).

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time​ programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 80 open enrollment Executive Education programs and more than 60 custom programs. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.​​​​