Harvard Business School

Convening alumni to build new theories of disruptive innovation with Clay Christensen

In 2013, Harvard Business School launched its Open Forum – a platform powered by OI Engine. The initial goal was to drive alumni to co-create an article with Professor Clay Christensen – who has been hailed as the world’s most influential management thinker. The result was the much discussed Harvard Business Review article, The Capitalist Dilemma.


The effort reached out to over 5000 alumni of Professor Christensen’s BSSE course (Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise) and resulted in unprecedented rates of alumni engagement. These contributions richly informed Professor Christensen’s article that went on to be published in in the Harvard Business Review in 2014.


Exposure to a new knowledge generation process engaged the HBS alumni, providing many lessons in the power of collaboration and ultimately transforming Clay Christensen’s research. Faculty were inspired to share learnings in Harvard Business Review – which included the importance of framing the challenge question, inviting relevant communities to participate and being open to partly formed ideas. This trial confirmed the potential for online tools to engage alumni and led HBS to sign a long-term contract with OI Engine to keep the Open Forum platform running and explore further avenues for how it might harness their collective wisdom.

What's next?

HBS Open Forum challenges are usually posed to alumni but recently a partnership with Harvard Medical School has led to a challenge which is open to the public. The Health Acceleration Challenge is seeking proven innovations for US healthcare delivery that are ready to scale. This competition seeks to shorten the timeframe for innovation dissemination. 

2 years +
2000 Alumni, staff & students

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Umpqua Bank
Multi-media Telco

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