The Innovative Life: Clayton Christensen to Headline Commencement

Published: December 07, 2010 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University is pleased to announce Clayton M. Christensen as this year’s distinguished University Commencement speaker. Consistently acknowledged as a leading world thinker on innovation, Christensen is best known for his innovative work in commercial enterprises.

Widely sought after as a speaker, advisor and board member across the globe, Christensen will address SUU’s Class of 2011 at the University Commencement Ceremony on May 6, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. in the Centrum Arena.

Of Christensen’s appointment as the University’s 2011 Commencement speaker, SUU President Michael T. Benson said, “Dr. Christensen is known around the world for his research and writing on business practices and strategy. His work on disruptive technologies and innovation is second to none and I have every confidence the graduating class will long remember his address.”

For his unique perspective and lasting impact on the field, Christensen will also receive an honorary doctorate degree in business from Southern Utah University at the annual Commencement festivities.

Though best known for the lasting impact his ideas have made in global business, Christensen is highly sought after as a public speaker thanks, in large measure, to his broader approach to what he calls the “Well-Planned Life.”

According to Christensen, life’s actions can and should be deliberate decisions about how an individual wishes to allocate one’s time, energy and talent in pursuit of a well-defined overall purpose.

His recent article “How Will You Measure Your Life?,” published through the Harvard Business Review, has rapidly passed through social networks and news sites, and is one of the most popular articles the Review has ever run.

It would seem Christensen’s life perspective may have as lasting an impact as his business theories that have taken the industry by storm.

Best known for his theory of disruptive innovation, Christensen began questioning why the best run and most likely to succeed companies often failed.

His answer: “Actually, these people did everything right.” Christensen’s breakout 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, explores how different types of change cause certain types of firms to succeed or fail.

Though obvious in retrospect, Christensen’s ideas were received as groundbreaking.

Since, Christensen’s research has been applied to national economies and start-up and Fortune 50 companies, including the government of Singapore, India’s Tata Consultancy Services, Franklin Covey, W.R. Hambrecht and Vanu, just to name a few.

He has most recently focused his attention on two prominent social issues: education and health care.

His latest of six books, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, explores the need for altering the way we are taught to match the way we learn. As summarized in the book’s description, “If we hope 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.”

Christensen also recently published The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care. The Innovator’s Prescription purports to be a cure for the American health care system’s critical condition.

Beyond a respected publishing career, Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Technology & Operations Management and General Management faculty groups at Harvard.

A Utah native, Christensen holds a B.A. with highest honors in economics from Brigham Young University (1975) and a Master of Philosophy in applied econometrics and the economics of less-developed countries from Oxford University (1977), where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received a Master of Business Administration degree with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School in 1979, graduating as a George F. Baker Scholar. He was awarded his Doctor of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1992. He holds four honorary doctorates and an honorary chaired professorship at the Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

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