The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

A new classic, cited by leaders and media around the globe as a highly recommended read for anyone interested in innovation.In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, How Will You Measure Your Life?) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can dev(The...

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Title:The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
Author:Jeffrey H. Dyer
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators Reviews

  • Joshua Guest

    It took a sheer force of will to finish this because a friend of mine wanted to borrow it. At the conclusion of my first reading, I felt like I had heard the same quotes and same ideas over and over so many times that I marveled how Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen could write the same chapter 10 times and get Clayton Christensen to let them put his name on it (I say that because I don't ever sense Clay's voice throughout the mini-tome). The book is so repetitive, I had to wonder if they had put on an e

    It took a sheer force of will to finish this because a friend of mine wanted to borrow it. At the conclusion of my first reading, I felt like I had heard the same quotes and same ideas over and over so many times that I marveled how Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen could write the same chapter 10 times and get Clayton Christensen to let them put his name on it (I say that because I don't ever sense Clay's voice throughout the mini-tome). The book is so repetitive, I had to wonder if they had put on an essay contest where they said: "Write about how to innovate, and you must mention the Google vs. P&G swap, the Apple "Think Different" ad campaign, and you have to talk about T-shaped people." But, you have to keep in mind that this is a book written by academics. It's not supposed to be entertaining, so any entertainment value to be gotten from it is a bonus. The book sometimes come across so supremely satisfied with its own ideas that you think that the authors believe that they invented IDEO and were responsible for teaching Steve Jobs et al the secrets of innovation. I finished the book thinking I would give two stars to the trio who came off as a pack of bright and excited Cutco salesmen (or life insurance or pest control or security systems, whatever kind of salesman you need to understand the off-putting excitement over something so highly unexciting).

    But, as is my custom, I went over the book again to insert the marked quotes into my UberQuotation catalogue (1754 quotations logged and counting). As I re-read some of the portions that I had marked months ago before I started dragging my feet through this slog of repetition, I saw the beauty of the book for what it was: a simple, straightforward recipe for how to innovate methodically and systematically. I noticed how my behavior towards approaching problems had indeed changed because of some latent residual wisdom I had gained from reading. I did indeed focus more on asking questions as opposed to my former method of jumping in to solve a problem. I had indeed made an effort to network with people just for the pleasure of learning from them. I was less afraid of experimenting because something told me that I needed to "fail often to succeed sooner." In reading Innovator's DNA, a little piece of it became fused into my own DNA. For which I, too, was so supremely satisfied.

    I felt to give it two stars the first time and four stars the second time, so I split the difference: three stars.

  • Rebecca

    The concepts are great and definitely worth incorporating into your daily life, but all of the important information can be found in the HBR article they wrote - the book just adds anecdotal stories from the lives of successful innovators. Some of the cases were so tied to business that I found them contradictory when trying to apply them to the citizen or government sectors. There are 4 skills to practice, which culminate in the skill of association, or connecting various fields and ideas. That

    The concepts are great and definitely worth incorporating into your daily life, but all of the important information can be found in the HBR article they wrote - the book just adds anecdotal stories from the lives of successful innovators. Some of the cases were so tied to business that I found them contradictory when trying to apply them to the citizen or government sectors. There are 4 skills to practice, which culminate in the skill of association, or connecting various fields and ideas. That's because the most interesting combinations are often discovered at the intersections and boundaries.

    1. Questioning

    2. Observing

    3. Networking with diverse fields and interests

    4. Experimenting

  • Shaun

    I love every book I've ever read written by Clayton Christensen. This book describes five characteristics that all innovators share in common: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting. I would like to develop these skills to help me in my career. After the first section of individual skills developed by innovators, he lists out companies that share this same DNA structure and are able to innovate in the marketplace. I found this book, like all the other Christensen book

    I love every book I've ever read written by Clayton Christensen. This book describes five characteristics that all innovators share in common: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting. I would like to develop these skills to help me in my career. After the first section of individual skills developed by innovators, he lists out companies that share this same DNA structure and are able to innovate in the marketplace. I found this book, like all the other Christensen books, very intriguing.

  • Aaron Maurer

    Here is another book review with perspective with how the content can be applied to education. This is how I always read my materials.

    On with the review.

    Book website:

    This book was another fascinating read. I have been blessed to have read many great books in a row. This one is another one that all people should read.

    The authors conducted an eight year study that established 5 Skills that all innovators possess.

    1. Association

    2. Quest

    Here is another book review with perspective with how the content can be applied to education. This is how I always read my materials.

    On with the review.

    Book website:

    This book was another fascinating read. I have been blessed to have read many great books in a row. This one is another one that all people should read.

    The authors conducted an eight year study that established 5 Skills that all innovators possess.

    1. Association

    2. Question

    3. Observe

    4. Network

    5. Experiment

    When I think of these five skills I don't think of successful people despite that many have these skills, but I instantly think of kids. All kids have these five skills. The key idea that I left this book with is that schools and society must change to quit killing these skills in youth. My young children possess these skills, but as they get older I fear they will lose these vital skills to be successful in life.

    It is hard to innovate when structure does not change and even more so in schools with such limited scope when educators are forced to fight for obedience instead of learning.

    The authors mention that large companies typically fail at disrupting innovation because top management team is dominant by people with delivery skills, not discovery skills. I think this holds true in some regards in education as well. The schools that deliver have administration that get it and work for discovery and testing the edge of chaos.

    If we want this to change then I think the honest question must be

    How does your company/school reward and promote discovery skills?

    I am not suggesting that we just go wild fire and leave things completely wide open without restriction. Creativity loves constraint. We must remember that questions alone do not produce innovation. They are necessary, but insufficient. We need those people that can deliver. You need big ideas, but you need those who work through the details to get it done. In schools I think it would be amazing if we took time to assemble teacher teams divided up by these skills. You need teams with a variety of skills and abilities. Discovery driven people are not all that matters

    The book talks about people who would be good for teams and innovation. I like these skills for educators as well. I often wonder if colleges prepare student teachers for these skills and more importantly are schools screening teachers with these skills. If not, then I think this is something that needs to be addressed. The skills are

    1. Show a track record that demonstrate discovery skills

    2. Possess deep expertise in at least on knowledge area and show breadth in a few others (T shaped knowledge)

    3. Display a passion to change world and make a difference

    If we know that innovators and creators are going to be the face of change and the future of business, then we as educators and schools need to shift how we teach and the values we express. I think we are in a pivotal time that we must begin to change some things up. Not everything is broken, but we are in need of an update.

    This book was an essential read that left me with many great ideas to think about and items that I need to address. My current goal as a result of this book is to create a place for teachers to come tinker, explore, question, observe, and experiment. I am calling it Tinker Time and it starts this week. I will continue to push myself as an educator to allow more of these 5 skills to develop in my classroom and school.

    - See more at:

  • Andy Farley

    Really really like the authors advice...but know it is damn hard to implement.

  • Colleen

    Didn't really like it. Too much Steve Jobs boosterism, and I don't agree with the basic premise that if we all get to be better innovators, we can be like Steve Jobs too. That's not really a goal I aspire to, frankly, nor do I think it's possible.

    However, there is some helpful language here that will help those in the delivery chain think more creatively about discovering areas for improvement.

  • Sherry

    As a fan of Clayton Christensen, I thought this would be an interesting read. The main insight -- that questioning, observing, associating, networking, and experimenting are together the keys to innovation -- was interesting, but it probably could have been adequately explored in a long article. The book just ended up being pretty repetitive, and the explanations obvious in view of Christensen's other work. That being said, this is still a great book for anyone interested in inventing or improvi

    As a fan of Clayton Christensen, I thought this would be an interesting read. The main insight -- that questioning, observing, associating, networking, and experimenting are together the keys to innovation -- was interesting, but it probably could have been adequately explored in a long article. The book just ended up being pretty repetitive, and the explanations obvious in view of Christensen's other work. That being said, this is still a great book for anyone interested in inventing or improving their creativity.

  • Anna

    I found the way the authors approached the topic of innovation to be at odds with the overall structure of the book. This dichotomy was distracting. While the book is about innovative entrepreneurs, thinking outside the box, and what it takes to master those skills, the authors presented the information in an extremely structured, traditional, and data heavy format. It seemed strange to be posturing that one could up their innovation quotient through a structured set of contrived behaviors. The

    I found the way the authors approached the topic of innovation to be at odds with the overall structure of the book. This dichotomy was distracting. While the book is about innovative entrepreneurs, thinking outside the box, and what it takes to master those skills, the authors presented the information in an extremely structured, traditional, and data heavy format. It seemed strange to be posturing that one could up their innovation quotient through a structured set of contrived behaviors. The book has great insight and information hidden between the pages...you just have to engage with it beyond the format in which it's initially presented.

  • Marcelo Bahia

    This one made me feel deceived. I'm a huge fan of Clayton Christensen, whose books

    and

    blew my mind and brought important frameworks and concepts I use all the time in my equity investing profession. Seeing the title and Mr. Christensen listed as one of the authors, I was fooled to believe this was another member of his innovator's series.

    It wasn't.

    Actually written by Jeffrey Dyer and Hal Gregersen, Clayton acted more as an advisor and pr

    This one made me feel deceived. I'm a huge fan of Clayton Christensen, whose books

    and

    blew my mind and brought important frameworks and concepts I use all the time in my equity investing profession. Seeing the title and Mr. Christensen listed as one of the authors, I was fooled to believe this was another member of his innovator's series.

    It wasn't.

    Actually written by Jeffrey Dyer and Hal Gregersen, Clayton acted more as an advisor and premium reviewer on this one - and as a book bait to Clayton's fanboys like me.

    The lack of innovation on the ideas presented on the book can tell. The authors could have eaten more of their own cooking and apply the advice on the text to actually come up with ideas that haven't been said for about 875,327 times by now. Are they serious they wrote a whole book to bring the message that innovators practice association, questioning, observation, networking and experimentation? The age of the book is not an excuse, as when it was published in 2011, when these "innovator's skills" were more than known.

    Don't get me wrong. The authors were behind a very extensive study on innovation in the corporate world and I praise their work and effort. But doing all that to support conclusions that were 100% already expected doesn't turn into a worthwhile book.

    Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years and couldn't imagine that innovation excellence should come from the act of associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting, go spend your reading time with something else.

  • Dorotea

    Insight comes from exposure to different ideas, experimenting and reflecting. This is no big news, I don't see what all the hype is about. But I suppose that if you find this book useful, then maybe you indeed needed it in the first place.

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