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PlexusCall: Deconstructing Disruption
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When: Friday, August 15, 2014
1-2pm ET

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Friday, August 15, 2014 1-2 PM Eastern Time
Deconstructing Disruption

Guests: Peter Jones, David Hurst and John Kenagy

MP3 File


The concept of disruptive innovation was developed by Harvard business scholar Clayton Christensen, and the term has become ubiquitous. Harvard historian Jill Lepore wrote in a recent New Yorker article that the theory is founded on apocalyptic fear of financial collapse, global devastation and shaky evidence, and debate erupted in scholarly and business circles. Does innovation need disruption, and what exactly is disruption? These guests have perspectives gained through their own scholarship and organizational experience. Christensen invited John Kenagy to be a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Business School to help develop a concept of disruptive innovation in healthcare. He admires Christensen’s insights but has shifted his own focus to adaptation. Peter Jones and David Hurst have studied and written about disruption and innovation in healthcare and other fields.

Peter Jones, PhD, is an associate professor at OCAD University, where he is dedicated to the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation program. He teaches innovation research and systems/systemic design courses and guide research in the Strategic Innovation Lab(sLab), which builds on the graduate teaching and research. His research agenda includes healthcare service design, critical services innovation, the development of strongly sustainable business models, new learning media and scholarly publishing, and dialogic design as a collaborative foresight process. He founded Redesign Network in 2001, as a research and information service design firm with a network of associates in the US and Toronto. Redesign specializes in professional practice and high-tech sectors, designing for clinical informatics, medical and higher education, and other complex work systems. As a board member of the Institute for 21st Century Agoras he works with a worldwide network to advance design practice and theory, for inclusive, multi-stakeholder participation in solution of wicked problems in global and civil society.

Dr. Jones life long professional and social interests are to humanize systems and institutions through collective wisdom. His Union Institute doctorate (2000) examined the relationship of organizational values embedded in innovation processes to the maintenance of power and decision control. This work inspired continuing research into the organizational dynamics of innovation, collaborative information practices, and how people think with and use information.

David K. Hurst is a speaker, consultant and management educator, who helps managers and organizations learn from their past, understand the present and create their future. He spent twenty-five years working in corporations in several countries in a series of organizational "train wrecks" as the Western World began its radical transition from the industrial era to the age of knowledge and information. He extracted from his experience some highly innovative ideas about leadership, the management of change and the dynamics of organizations that promote creativity and learning His articles have been published in leading business publications such as the Financial Times, Globe and Mail, Harvard Business Review, Strategy+Business, and several academic journals. His previous books are Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change, and Learning from the Links: Mastering Management Using Lessons From Golf.

He served for 10 years as executive vice-president of a large North American industrial distributor with more than $1 billion in sales and 1600 employees. He holds an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and a BA in psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Regina’s Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business, associated with the Center for Creative Leadership, and a contributing editor to Strategy+Business.

John Kenagy is a physician, healthcare executive, scholar, and advisor. After receiving his MD from the University of Nebraska Medical School, he trained in General and Vascular Surgery at the University of Washington and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Kenagy has been Chief of Surgery, Chief of Staff, and Regional Vice President for Business Development with PeaceHealth, a multi-state healthcare delivery system. While continuing to work as a surgeon, he joined the management team of a progressive health system in the Pacific Northwest as Vice President of Business Development. He found the resources and flexibility he needed as a clinician were a nightmare to him as an executive trying to keep the system afloat. As a clinician, he found his hard-won efforts as a manager barely made a dent in problems he faced daily at the front line. He sought new solutions at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and where heearned a management degree. Afterwards, he was appointed Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School (1998-2002). Studying the few companies able to consistently adapt, such as Intel, Toyota, IBM, and Southwest Airlines, he found common characteristics. Translating those characteristics to healthcare has led to the revelation of Adaptive Design, which clears the way for people in management and the front lines to share a common purpose: getting patients exactly what they need at continually lower cost. He founded Kenagy & Associates, LLC (K&A) in 2002. He focuses on how management can sustainably lead and grow Adaptive Design from the inside. His book, Designed to Adapt: Leading Healthcare in Challenging Times, is a guide to working adaptively.

Links for articles on disruptive innovation and disruption.

David Hurst’s piece, from his book New Ecology of Leadership, on history and changes in management

Practical Wisdom: Reinventing Organizations by Rediscovering Ourselves by David Hurst


Lindsey Dunn on disruptive innovation and adaptive design, with view of John Kenagy on adapting.


Peter Jones, PhD, of OCAD University in Toronto, addresses the issues raised by Jill Lepore and Clayton Christensen in his blog post Reproduction of Disruption, How Innovation Regimes Reproduce Culture.

Reproduction of Disruption

Business consultant and author David K. Hurst, BA, MBA has written two parts of a three part post interpreting disruption from an ecological perspective. He comments, "With the continual emergence of antibiotic-resistant bugs threatening to disrupt healthcare, it seems to me that the ecological/complex systems view is essential."

Disrupting Disruption Theory [Part I]: Storm in a Modernist Teacup

Disrupting Disruption Theory [Part II]: Ecological Transformation

See commentary of John Kenagy, MD, MBA, ScD, FACS "Fireworks: The Disruption of Disruptive Innovation" at his m2s2 e club site.


The U.S. economy has become less flexible, more risk averse since 1980. There are fewer start ups and more failures among the companies that do start new.

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