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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,517 ratings  ·  137 reviews
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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published July 12th 2011)
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Aaron Maurer
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Joshua Guest
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
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. ...more
Andy Farley
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really really like the authors advice...but know it is damn hard to implement.
Marcelo Bahia
This one made me feel deceived. I'm a huge fan of Clayton Christensen, whose books The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution 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 rev
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biz-lit
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 ...more
Denise Easter
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Excellent book for leadership today - describes how to imagine and invite improvement, not be afraid of change, and even seek out new (innovative) ideas.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Good, but nothing earth-shattering here.
Jim Razinha
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
For a book on innovation, this is disappointingly unimaginative. My son is back in school, finishing a degree in operations management and this is one of two books assigned for a class this semester. The other is inGenius, which has its own flaws, but at least will have value for the students. As I read books like these when I can, I wanted to see what he'd be working with. Dyer, et al, have cobbled together a poor business book with worn tropes, academic tables, and all of the wrong examples - ...more
Wulan Suci Maria
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Simple straightforward book written by highly educated people, that discusses 5 skills of disruptive innovator; (associating, questioning, observing, networking, experimenting) in pragmatic and example based way.
Easy to understand and follow, but indeed requires effort to ‘mastering’ those skills rather than just from reading the book. Downside of the book is the consistent repetition from the story of some companies and some leaders name to the point where unfortunately I find it makes the boo
Farooq Mazhar
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strategy
I bought hardcopy of this book from amazon and read it in a week. It simply classified five different discovery skills that person can develop by practicing. The author highlighted stories of many innovative companies and owners as an example for every discovery skills. He suggested that discovery skills such as associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting are found in innovative people and recommended building these skills, if you don’t have them from birth.

At the end of
Usman Khan
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
The author provides an in-depth analysis of the five key attributes needed to improve one’s innovation quotient: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking and Experimenting. Most of the book discusses how world’s best innovators incorporate these behaviours in their lives, and recommend strategic tactics through which the reader can embark on his/her own innovation journey as well.

The second half of the book suggests that leaders can foster innovation culture in their respective organisat
Horacio Hoyos
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it
With exemplar innovators and successful innovating companies examples this books dwells on the whys and hows of their essence as innovation agents in under to help the reader understand what needs to be done to be an effective innovator. The book is divided into two chapters, one for individuals and one for companies. The regular reader may find the insights useful and might want to incorporate a couple of suggestions into their life. However, as most management books, the ideas and suggestions ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book was thoroughly okay. I read this book for a class. There are lots of great ideas but it reads like an advertisement for Google, Apple, Virgin, and a few other companies. I get that they’re innovative and that’s why they’re successful but branch out a little, authors! It also reads like the expected someone to read it over the course of five years because they kept repeating the same things over and over as if to remind you their point about certain companies. Very innovative ...more
Emil Bredahl
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was great in many different ways, because it highlighting some of the issues one can face as we innovate and strive to go some where in life. The many companies that the author talks about in the book each had something significant to say, and I believe that I was able to learn from the points that he had brought up, despite some of the points being a bit weak. For a person that desires to develop and learn new, then I can recommend this book strongly, as one book to read out ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I definitely think every leader should take the time to read this book. The author did a great job of detailing the characteristics of innovative individuals as well as innovative organizations.

I was not surprised to see questioning as one of the key skills. "Innovators ask lots of questions to better understand what is and what might be. They ignore safe questions and opt for crazy ones, challenging the status quo and often threatening the powers that be with uncommon intensity and frequency."
Kathy Nealen
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Some good information about well known innovators, their companies, and their processes. It was interesting to note that the authors’ assessment for innovation did not include GE in the top 25 innovative companies; yet, Business Week ranked it number 5. In effect, the authors predicted GE’s recent downfall. (This Book was published in 2011). Overall, I found some of the information repetitive. I would have ranked it higher if they had edited their work more carefully.
Kent Winward
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was wavering between two and three stars. Here is the thing -- if you are going to write about innovation, why do you do it like everyone else? More cult of Jobs/Bezos/Page sycophancy. The book could have used a little innovation to differentiate it from EVERYTHING else on the market that is exactly the same.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a useful book. Often, when I pick up a book in this genre, a good part of it is floof... extra words, things to make it longer. Not this book. This book is solid muscle. No fat in it whatsoever. It’s cold, hard, applicable information. If there was ever a good textbook on to how to be more innovative, this is it. Kudos.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very educational book. The five skills mentioned in the book are essential to innovator. The book gives a lot of insightful case studies. A must read for us considering how to seriously face the fast-pace future.

This book is also very help if we think of how to make our children to be more innovative.
Jonathan Hardy
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this while taking a class from Professor Dyer on the topic and felt that it had some great content and examples. I love the perspective that innovation is something we can learn and the simple construct of the discovery skills as a helpful way to start. Definitely recommend in connection with Innovator's method for those trying to create a new product or service. ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alot of takeaways from the books that one can apply. Not just what is the book about, it also answers to how you can proceed further to develop the 5 skills. Easy to read and doesn't bore you with technicalities. Highly recommend as a good read to end the year/help to plan your 2020 for self-development. ...more
Dee Gardner
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like the ideas presented in the book. I was a bit discouraged when I took the test and realized I am not as innovative as I would like to be. That, however, is not the reason I gave the book 4 stars. I was disappointed because it just seemed like a sales manual for their program on how to be a better innovator.
Lindsay MacGregor
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book slowly, over a ten-day period, reading a bit and reflecting on it, finding ways to adapt it to my life and career as an educator. I found it challenging, engaging and educational. The anecdotes were very fascinating and added to the book. I can't wait to get my hands on another book by Clay Christensen. ...more
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it
After reading this book it is clear to me that the authors had invested significant amount of time and effort in doing research on innovators and innovating organisations. But i found nothing new in this book and some points are repetitive. The point of this book is that innovators have skills like associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting.
Robert Fritzen
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative and insightful

This was an excellent read on the techniques us "average Joe's" can use to become more innovative in our day to day working. It is essentially a blueprint for greatness for those of us so inclined.
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