Global Authority on Building Innovative Leaders and Companies, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, and Co-author of The Innovator’s DNA
Every company wants to be the next Amazon or Tesla, the firm with a permanent spot in the news for its cutting-edge products and a name synonymous with innovation. But it takes a special set of qualities to get there, and Hal Gregersen has dedicated his career to finding out what kind of skills, corporate culture and set of practices produce innovative powerhouses. As executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, and Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Gregersen has created a methodology by which corporate leaders can raise their companies’ levels of creative inquiry, unleash the potential of their employees, and make a meaningful impact on their industries and on the world.
Questions Are the Answer
The crux of Gregersen’s argument, spelled out in his book Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life, is while business leaders and employees alike are programmed to look for answers, the real catalyst for innovative change is questioning. The most successful companies are those that facilitate brainstorming and thinking outside the box. Gregersen has devised a three-step methodology, based on his research on the most innovative leaders and firms in the world, which shows how company cultures can be overhauled and transformed to habitually seek (and produce) pioneering breakthroughs.
The Innovator’s DNA
Gregersen co-authored, with Clay Christensen and Jeff Dyer, The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, a guide to cultivating the personal skills embodied by the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs. Having deeply researched and interviewed ground-breaking leaders like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and P&G’s A.G. Laffey, Gregersen draws on personal experience and rigorous research and analysis to successfully advise the world’s largest corporations. His framework for redesigning a company culture around constructive questioning has been implemented by Chanel, Danone, Disney, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, Genentech and Salesforce, among others.
Accolades and Awards
Ranked one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50 and winner of the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award for leadership, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, motivational executive seminars and transformational coaching experiences. Along with ten books, Gregersen is the author of more than 50 articles, book chapters, and cases on leading innovation and change (with more thanr 10,000 citations by other scholars). His research has been highlighted in global media such as BBC, CNN, The Economist, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
Gregersen’s tenure at MIT is the culmination of an illustrious academic journey that has included teaching posts at INSEAD, London Business School, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Brigham Young University, and a Fulbright Fellowship in Finland. Prior to his academic career, Gregersen was an advisory board member at Pharmascience, a Montreal-based pharmaceutical company, and he remains a senior fellow at the global innovation consulting firm Innosight.
THE INNOVATOR’S DNA: MASTERING FIVE SKILLS OF DISRUPTIVE INNOVATORS
Is an innovator born or made? This is the question Hal Gregersen, along with Clayton Christensen and Jeff Dyer, set out to answer for their bestselling book, “The Innovator’s DNA.” Drawing on his firsthand conversations with game-changing founders and CEOs – and research from more than 15,000 creative leaders around the world – Gregersen discusses five key skills that innovators leverage to solve challenging problems, discover new markets and fuel economic growth. Gregersen also focuses attendees’ energy on actively developing these skills through brief, high-energy learning activities so they leave thinking and acting differently in their professional work and personal lives.
THE LEADER’S DILEMMA: ASKING CATALYTIC QUESTIONS – BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Powerful organizational and industrial forces can keep any senior leader from asking (or hearing) uncomfortable questions, creating an answer-centric environment at his or her own peril. It’s what Hal Gregersen calls “The CEO’s Dilemma,” and in many ways, it’s every leader’s dilemma. In this session, Gregersen discusses how leaders and organizations can escape the innovator’s most dangerous blind spot, the space where “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Based on in-depth interviews with more than 200 of the world’s best question-asking leaders, including Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, Pixar’s Ed Catmull, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and General Stanley McChrystal, he reveals five daily disciplines these leaders rely on to surface the right questions. Gregersen also helps audience members become better questioners in real time by sharing key questioning tools, helping them unlock solutions, innovations and processes.
BUILDING A SUSTAINABLY CREATIVE COMPANY: PUTTING PEOPLE, PROCESSES & PHILOSOPHIES TO WORK
Innovative leaders hold the power to create monumental impact throughout an organization by acting and thinking innovatively themselves. However, if leaders don’t empower others to do the same, the breadth of a company’s innovation capacity – and consequently, its growth potential – rises and falls with them alone. In this session, Hal Gregersen discusses how today’s most innovative leaders, including Pixar’s Ed Catmull, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, build a culture of innovation by decentralizing the source of ideas and instilling a creative capacity from the bottom up – and why it’s the single most important legacy leaders can leave behind. As Benioff put it, “It’s my job to create a culture of innovation.”
All Hal Gregersen Books
Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in LifePurchase Book
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive InnovatorsPurchase Book
It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes OrganizationsPurchase Book
Global Explorers: The Next Generation of LeadersPurchase Book
“Hal Gregersen’s highly interactive 90-minute presentation on the Innovator’s DNA was the keynote presentation for an internal conference on innovation for our key executives, product managers, and marketing managers. Not only did Hal exceed our expectations, he held the entire audience spellbound. Hal’s combination of superior intellect, his willingness to share many years of scholarship and field work on innovation, his warm personal style, natural curiosity, and humility resonated exceptionally well with the audience and they rewarded him with their undivided attention and a standing ovation. Both during and after his presentation, our executives came up to me and praised everything about Hal and his message. Hal’s presentation set the tone for the rest of the conference and attendees referred to Hal’s concepts repeatedly over the next three days. I would recommend him to any company that is serious about becoming a leading innovator in your industry.”
- | CenturyLink
"Thank you for your inspiring keynote presentation during Confluence in Berlin. You were our highest-rated speaker and the highlight of the event for a lot of our attendees. You brought strategic insight, humor and practical advice that I know people will take home and use in their daily lives, as I have been doing."
- | Infosys