Director at Microsoft
Why did you decide to take Disruptive Strategy?
I have always been a huge fan of Clayton Christensen. During my MBA back in 2002 at University of Adelaide, we used one of his textbooks, Innovation and the General Manager. More recently, I worked closely with Jeff Dyer and his theories espoused in The Innovator's Method and The Innovator's DNA to determine how our division (Business Development) might impact Microsoft's performance through championing disruptive innovation across the company. After reinvigorating my exposure to Professor Christensen, I sought him out on my social networks and this led me to see his initial post on Facebook about the Disruptive Strategy course.
I knew the material he would cover because it was already so familiar to me. But I was curious about a number of things, namely: a) how effective he would be able to deliver the content online in an engaging and collaborative way vs the traditional Harvard [physical] classroom environment; b) how Professor Christensen would apply his original theory to today’s problems and the prevalence of technology shaping new norms that did not exist 14 years ago; and finally, c) how I might attach a new lense on my renewed association with his theory to help me personally impact change for Microsoft and more broadly become an ambassador for his teachings across our Business Development Organization.
What did you find most insightful about the course?
As stated previously, one of my goals was to view the theories of Disruptive Strategy with a new set of lenses for Microsoft. What happened instead is that the lenses changed the way I interacted with all products! I cannot stress how you go into the course blinded to a traditional way of viewing the customer and come out of the course as though you have achieved 20/20 vision and are thus able to see right past the obvious indicators that correlate to buying behavior to an ardent search for the cause of buying behavior. This is the basis for identifying the Customer Job To Be Done and a key element of Professor Christensen’s theory.
In a company like Microsoft, there is no end to the number of opportunities we might pursue. The course went into great detail on how to organize for innovation and prioritize according to your Resources, Processes and a Profit Formula. Combined with insights on the Job To Be Done, applying these theories keep you laser focused on allocating resources to projects that will provide optimal return on investment.
Although I was already familiar with Professor Christensen’s theory on Disruptive Innovation – I observed how easy it was for people to confuse the different types of innovation (Sustaining Innovation, Low-End Disruptive Innovation, and New-Market Disruptive Innovation). Having a firm grasp on each type of innovation, and when to apply it, is probably core to getting any value out of the course itself.
How do you plan to apply what you've learned in Disruptive Strategy to your career?
I made a commitment to our EVP, Peggy Johnson, to encapsulate my learnings from the course and share it across the hundreds of people who work in the Business Development Organization here at Microsoft. She, in turn, committed to fostering more people to attend this course if they demonstrate their prowess by applying these theories to a particular business problem we have today. In this way we can reward our team who make the effort and increase the number of Disruptive Strategy ambassadors across Microsoft.
I went into the course with a major business problem I faced at Microsoft. I held the course to task and applied each of the theories to my particular problem. The course is structured in a way that allows you to input personal information relevant to only you and your business – in this way you can drill down into challenges and opportunities relevant (and confidential) to you and road-test what you have learned. The end result is that you come away from the course with a solid plan of attack ready to roll.
Within 5 days of finishing the course I had a plan of action for a major part of our business and presented it to our corporate executive. It applied the theories of the Customer Job To Be Done and caused us to rethink our strategy to get the customer to “hire” us over the competition.
Sitting on my desk, just below my computer screen, is a sign that reminds me every day to view the Customer Job To Be Done across my 5 lenses: my experiences; our customer’s experiences; our former customer’s experiences; the customers that do not choose us; and the clunky workarounds that potential customers face every day.
Whether you are in a large corporation like Microsoft, a SMB or an entrepreneur striving for market significance – the course will fundamentally change your strategic process. This course will not only help you in terms of devising and implementing Disruptive Innovation, but equally important, help you see when your own Innovations are coming under attack by a competitor.
Within five days of finishing the course I had a plan of action for a major part of our business and presented it to our corporate executive. It applied the theories of the Customer’s Job to be Done and caused us to re-think our strategy to get the customer to “hire” us over the competition.