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Clayton Christensen Dies

A great loss for society in general

The Disruptive Innovation Awards - 2014 Tribeca Film Festival
 NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: (L-R) Christine Christensen, Craig Hatkoff, Clayton M. Christensen and Matthew Christensen attend The Disruptive Innovation Awards during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festivalat at NYU Skirball Center on April 25, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

Duke basketball has had plenty of famous parents: Chris Collins, Calvin Hill, Bob Hurley, Gerald Henderson quickly come to mind but there are a lot more.

None were quite as interesting as Matt Christensen’s father Clayton.

A Harvard academic, Christensen introduced the concept of disruptive innovation and it had a significant influence on people like Steve Jobs, Andy Groves and Reed Hastings, the key figures at Apple, Intel and Netflix, respectively.

Matt was an interesting player for Duke. He was big but athletically limited. The guy burned with intensity however and he absolutely helped Duke, particularly after he came back from his Mormon Mission (Clayton was a leading figure in the Church of Latter Day Saints).

Christensen died in Boston at 67 of complications from cancer treatment, according to his brother Carlton.

He’s a great loss to the country in general.

We are going through a period of sweeping change unlike any in world history with entire industries (think newspapers) being left in the past in just a period of years. Trucking is on deck as automation stands to replace a vast part of the American work force and when that happens, millions of people will suddenly be looking for jobs. That’s going to be a hell of a disruption.

People like Christensen helped us to make sense out of these changes. He was refining his theory up to the end but it applies to almost every aspect of society that technology is changing, including politics. It’s a shame we won’t be able to get any more guidance from him but that loss is nothing to what his family surely feels. Our deepest sympathy to Matt and his entire family.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” is hugely influential and considered one of the finest and most influential business books ever written.