10 Oct 2008

HBS Professor Clayton Christensen Brings Disruptive Innovation to Education


BOSTON — According to recent studies in neuroscience, the way we learn doesn't always match up with the way we are taught. Therefore, to stay competitive - academically, economically, and technologically - we need to rethink our understanding of intelligence, reevaluate our educational system, and reinvigorate our commitment to learning. In other words, we need "disruptive innovation."

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen first introduced the theory of disruptive innovation in his book The Innovator's Dilemma (1997), followed by The Innovator's Solution (2003), which describes how new technology can transform a company and revolutionize an industry. Now, in his new book, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (McGraw-Hill), Christenson - with coauthors Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson - applies "disruptive innovation" to one of the most important issues of our time: education.

"Our goal in writing this book was to dig beneath the sorts of surface explanations for why schools struggle to improve,"the authors said in a recent HBS Working Knowledge interview, "and the lenses on innovation, which is our field of specialty, proved a great way to help us do just that."

Through a wide range of real-life examples, readers will learn how:

  • customized learning will help more students succeed in school,
  • student-centric classrooms will increase the demand for new technology,
  • computers must be disruptively deployed to every student,
  • disruptive innovation can circumvent roadblocks that have prevented other attempts at school reform, and how
  • we can compete in the global classroom - and get ahead in the global market.

Filled with case studies, scientific findings, and unprecedented insights on how innovation should be managed, Disrupting Class provides a bold new lesson in innovation that will pave the way for change for years to come.

"Clayton Christensen's insights just might shake many of us in education out of our complacency and into a long needed disruptive discourse about really fixing our schools," said Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the Authors
Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. His research and teaching focus on management issues related to the development and commercialization of technological and business model innovation. He is the author or co-author of five books.

Michael B. Horn is a cofounder and executive director of the non-profit think tank Innosight Institute. He holds an AB from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Curtis W. Johnson is a writer and consultant who has served as a college president, head of a public policy research organization, and a chief of staff to former Minnesota governor Arne Carlson. Johnson and his colleagues were among the early proponents of what has become the chartered school movement.

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 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.