Learn More About Rory McDonald
As organizations adjust to the new economy, some are trying to pivot while others are entering new markets, in some cases operating in uncharted territory.
In his work as an advisor, researcher and educator, Harvard Business School Professor and disruptive innovation expert Rory McDonald develops and teaches strategies for dealing with both anticipated and unexpected market shifts. His presentations and courses on innovation, business strategy and the implications of futurism are widely praised for their energy, passion and insight.
McDonald’s frameworks for generating new ideas show business leaders how to target new consumers and markets rather than incrementally improve upon existing offerings. Drawing on the revolutionary “Jobs to be Done” theory developed by his mentor, Clayton Christensen, McDonald studies, maps and forecasts the growth and applicability of new business practices and emerging technologies. When it comes to dealing with new competitors and markets, his approach is preemptive and proactive.
McDonald’s research is especially valuable to investors looking to capitalize on the next big trend while avoiding unnecessary risks. His framework for investing maximizes long-term growth potential for companies deciding which areas of business to fund and which products to develop or discontinue. He advises both established companies looking to avoid disruption and startups seeking to dislodge powerful but slow-moving incumbents.
In a fall 2020 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “When It’s Time to Pivot, What’s Your Story?” McDonald and his co-author explain how shaping and communicating a broader narrative around a company’s mission – to investors, the media and customers – allows for more agility when it’s time to pivot. They support the point by sharing real-world examples of companies like Netflix, Slack and Away that survived unexpected challenges to their business because they linked their strategy changes to an original broader purpose.
Earlier, in a summer 2020 HBR article, “The New-Market Conundrum,” McDonald and his co-author outlined strategies for entering new markets they developed after conducting more than 200 interviews with entrepreneurs and corporate innovators. Their findings showed that new market pioneers follow a set of rules and patterns that defy conventional precepts of strategy and business-building.
“In our eyes, they amount to a new strategic framework, one that can help other innovators chart a course in new markets and avoid the pitfalls they present,” wrote the authors, who recommend firms avoid the traditional playbook when entering new markets. “The precepts of new-market strategy do not mean that the conventional rules of strategy should be abandoned. At some point, new entrants become established players who must begin to observe the traditional laws of strategy and focus on competition.”
The key is knowing when to change strategies and pivot, and that’s where McDonald does his best work.
Rory McDonald has won major research awards and is often featured in top academic publications including Harvard Business Review and Strategic Management Journal. In addition to being named to the 2016 40 Under 40 Most Outstanding MBA Professors by Poets & Quants, he received the 2019 Past Chairs Emerging Scholar Award in Technology and Innovation Management from the Academy of Management.
Before joining Harvard Business School, McDonald was on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where he received the CBA Foundation Teaching Award. He has taught courses for executives, business students and engineers at Harvard and Stanford Universities.
Beyond his advisory and academic roles, McDonald is a member of the board of YCG Funds, an Austin-based mutual fund company. He also serves as an advisor to several business ventures.
Professor McDonald received his PhD in management science and engineering from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. He holds an MBA and MA in economic sociology from Stanford University and two engineering degrees from the University of South Florida.
Rory McDonald is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Disruptive Innovation: Building the Organization of Tomorrow
How do managers continue to build and sustain a successful enterprise in the face of disruption? During this customized, interactive workshop, Professor Rory McDonald shares strategies and frameworks for leveraging disruption to create new opportunities. Participants come away with a better understanding of the limitations of traditional approaches when it comes to innovating through disruption, and practical tools for analyzing common management problems related to innovation and growth. While this workshop can be conducted in half-day, full-day or two-day sessions, longer arrangements allow for participants to apply the frameworks to their own challenges, allowing for a deeper kind of learning they can share within their own organizations.