"Clay Christensen's idea of 'disruptive innovation' made him the unintended mascot of the dotcom boom. So what's he thinking now?
A Motel 6 on a nondescript stretch of First Street near the San Jose airport holds a special place in the history of management thinking. It was there, nearly 13 years ago, in the no-frills accommodations he could afford on a doctoral student's stipend, that 39-year-old Clayton Christensen hatched his powerfully unsettling idea. A onetime White House Fellow, a former assistant to two U.S. secretaries of transportation and Rhodes Scholar, Christensen had just bailed out of the high-tech-materials manufacturing company he cofounded. A question had taken hold in his mind, and he couldn't help but follow its trail. As the chairman and president of a company that served the then-booming minicomputer industry clustered around Boston's Route 128, Christensen had watched a familiar pattern play out. The novel solutions, rapid growth, and marketplace wins of these companies were invariably credited to the management team's extraordinary vision, capabilities, and tactics. And when those same companies, those once-celebrated executives were blasted for ineptitude."