Whitney Johnson

Best-selling author, Thinkers50 speaker, expert on disruptive innovation and thinking.

Whitney Johnson is recognised as one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world. She is an expert on disruptive innovation and personal disruption. Her presentation, 'Disrupt Yourself®: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work' explores the simple yet powerful idea disruptive companies and ideas create impact and upend markets by doing something truly different.

Videos of Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson speaker, ShowReel Aug 2016
Whitney Johnson speaker, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work | University of Toronto, the Rotman School of Management, 2016

Speaker Profile

About Whitney Johnson

Recognised as one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world since 2015 (Thinkers50), Whitney Johnson is an expert on disruptive innovation and personal disruption, specifically, a framework which she outlines in the critically acclaimed book Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work.

She is also the author of Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things  Happen When You Dare to Dream. Her latest title, Build An “A” Team: Become a Boss People Love, will be released in May 2018 by Harvard Business Publishing.

Whitney developed her proprietary framework and diagnostics after co-founding The Disruptive Innovation Fund with Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen. The framework is complemented by a deep understanding of how executives create and destroy value, having spent nearly a decade as an Institutional Investor ranked equity analyst on Wall Street.

In addition to her work as a speaker and advisor, Whitney is one of the original 25 people who was involved in Marshall Goldsmith’s #100 Coaches Project, she is also a coach for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program, frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, is a Linkedin influencer, and hosts the twice-monthly Disrupt Yourself Podcast.

Speaking Topics

Disrupt Yourself®: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work

The idea is simple, but powerful: disruptive companies and ideas upend markets by doing something truly different – they see a need, an empty space waiting to be filled, and they dare to create something for which a market may not yet exist. An expert in driving innovation via personal disruption, Whitney Johnson will demonstrate how you can put the power of disruptive innovation to work. To help your company in unexpected ways, dare to innovate. Dream big dreams. Do something astonishing. Disrupt yourself.  In this session, Whitney Johnson will share stories of disruption and will teach you how powerful disruption can be in your organization’s evolving reinvention.  Johnson builds on her investment background as co-founder of two early stage venture firms, and an award-winning equity analyst to provide a fresh perspective on innovation and change.

Audience members will leave with practical tips and concrete action steps for how to:

  • Drive innovation throughout their organization,
  • Move into the sweet spot of their personal S-curve,
  • Use the S-curve as a tool for understanding the psychology of disruption, and
  • Accelerate or decelerate innovation and change with a variety of variables.
  • Pursuing a disruptive course isn’t just a nice thing to do, there’s a compelling business case: the odds of success are 6x higher and the revenue opportunity is 20x greater.

These ideas are for YOU if you are:

  • a high potential individual charting your career trajectory
  • a leader trying to jumpstart innovative thinking in your company
  • a self-starter ready to make a disruptive pivot in your business

These ideas are for your COMPANY if:

  • revenue growth is peaking and you need to reinvent
  • innovative thinking among your management team has stalled
  • industry changes are making the future uncertain

The fundamental unit of disruption is the individual.
The best way to drive corporate innovation is through personal disruption.
Disrupt yourself.
Allow others to do the same.
And disruptive products, services, companies and countries will happen on their own.
Companies don’t disrupt, people do.

Build An “A” Team: Become a Boss People Love

(Book being released by Harvard Business Publishing, May 2018; Keynote available September 2018)

Worried about irrelevance? Are you or your company about to be disrupted?

If you are looking for a surefire sign, look at where your workforce is on the S-curve. Based on Whitney Johnson’s proprietary research around disruption, every organization is a collection of individual S or learning curves. You build an A team by optimizing these individual curves. In this speech, you will learn how to manage people all along the S-curve and what to do when they reach the top of that curve. As employees are allowed, even required, to surf their individual S-curve waves, disrupting themselves, you will be less vulnerable to disruption and become a boss people love to work for.


"I have used the word ‘disruption’ to understand how some companies blossom while others wither. Whitney has applied the word in a new context, to understand why some individuals succeed in remarkable ways." - Clayton M.Christensen

Books By Whitney Johnson

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