With so much other news around the world, as a past entrepreneur and company president turned EOS Implementer, I saw that American scholar, author and professor, Clayton Christensen, who wrote the award-winning book The Innovators Dilemma, sadly passed away last week at 67 years old.
It reminded of the time a few years ago when I found myself on a long plane ride seated next to a young entrepreneur who couldn’t stop talking about his new business idea. He said the startup would change the world and, of course, make him very wealthy. I asked a few questions and listened to tons of answers. Eventually the conversation turned to my experiences. So, I shared some of my personal experiences, spoke gravely about the sacrifices, and encouraged both careful consideration and fearless adventure in equal doses. I even rolled out my favorite clever axiom; “Experience is what you learn from a bad decision. Everything else is just opinion.” Most importantly though, I shared my Top Ten Book List.
Over the years I have read a lot, I mean, conservatively over 500 business-related books. Most I would never recommended to anyone, ever. There are, however, a select few I find myself recommending all the time. People in my network know of this habit and ask what I’ve read lately or if I’ve moved anything new to my “list”. I even have rules to make it to the recommendation list and they are as follows:
- It must help people grow and improve themselves or their organization.
- You can recommend a book to be added to my list but the decision of the judges (me) is final.
- For a new book to be added to the list, a current book must be removed to maintain the “Top Ten” status.
Now back to Professor Christensen. In the 25 year history of my list, The Innovators Dilemma is one of only four books I have never even considered moving down the list or off the list. It is that good and that insightful. Simply put, Christensen’s message is always, always “applicable”.
No, I didn’t personally know Clayton Christensen. I just believe his book provides important lessons in business to those open to thinking and learning about innovation. And as for that young entrepreneur, I don’t know whatever happen to him or his innovative idea. But I hope he read Christensen’s book to help him along the way. I, as always, will continue to recommend the book to either seasoned colleagues or excited entrepreneurs I have the privilege of chatting with between LAX and ORD.
Thank you for writing this amazing book and rest in peace, Clayton Christensen.