Clayton Christensen was named the most influential “thought leader” in the world for the second time at the Oscars of the “management guru” world Nov. 11.
The ranking is biennial and determined by the Thinkers 50 group. Rankings are based on individuals’ ideas and contributions to the business world with the results presented in London.
Clayton Christensen’s son, Spencer, attributes his father’s success to his commitment to God and family and his work ethic.
“The man is the hardest working person I know,” Spencer Christensen said. “The amount of things he’s able to do are sheerly miraculous, but that miracle has come on the back of an all-out effort on his part.”
Clayton Christensen currently teaches one of the most popular elective courses at Harvard, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise. He is also the author of nine bestselling books, including one of the most popular business books, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”
He also works as a consultant, and many top business leaders seek Clayton Christensen’s professional advice to incorporate in their own business models.
Although his worldwide recognition is something Clayton Christensen is proud of, his son says his dad doesn’t dwell on that success.
“It’s funny — he’s definitely happy when he gets big public accolades that add nice lines to his list of accomplishments, but when it comes to his sense of achievement, his thinking is on a much more personal scale,” he said.
Spencer Christensen said his dad is happiest when his ideas are making a difference in the lives of other people.
“I see him most happy when something he does as a business thinker, Church member, family member or friend changes the course of someone’s life,” he said. “Of course, nothing changes lives more profoundly than bringing souls unto Christ, so to that point, I would imagine that he’s most proud of the lives he’s touched as a formal and informal missionary — sharing the gospel with members and non-members alike.”
Clayton Christensen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and recently wrote “The Everyday Missionary,” a book that helps members of the LDS Church share the gospel with friends and family in a natural way.
Clayton Christensen attended school at Harvard, where he was neighbors to Katie Strike. The two attended the same ward in Boston.
“I remember him as a warm, approachable, gentle giant of a guy, which is so refreshing to see coupled with genius,” Strike said.
Mark McAllister, a senior at BYU studying English, took a lecture series class from Christensen while studying at Oxford over the summer.
McAllister remarked on the professor’s humility and his ability to relate to all kinds of people.
“He is a giant of a man physically, and he is a brilliant man and yet so humble,” he said.
McAllister was impressed by Clayton Christensen’s ability to break down his intricate business philosophies and teach them simply in an introduction course. More than that, McAllister was impressed that Christensen was always open to learning new things from his students.
“He saw teaching as a learning experience itself,” he said. “He is still learning as he is talking to us, and he recognizes that he doesn’t know everything.”
Spencer Christensen believes his dad’s ability to listen and learn from people is one of the things that distinguishes him from other business leaders.
“He is so open to learning from anyone, his work has become broader, richer, and more robust than it otherwise would have.”