Book Review: How will you measure your life?

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Christensen, Clayton M. , James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. How will you measure your life? Harper Business, 2012.

A family member was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a grim prognosis. She and her husband (my brother) came to Durham for treatment at Duke’s Brain Cancer Center.  When my brother spoke to me about the medical options, I did not know how to advise him.  My sister, a physician, told me, ”That’s not your job. Your job is to host them while they are in Durham.”

Knowing your job in the family is one of the insights in Clayton Christensen’s best-selling new book, How Will You Measure Your Life? Christensen uses examples from some of the world’s best companies to provide life lessons to students.  He explains the theories from his course at the Harvard Business School, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise, and he shows how to apply them to the careers and personal lives of graduates.  Readers are encouraged to consider what is likely to happen as a result of different decisions and actions, so they may improve their interpersonal relationships, personal integrity and opportunities for career success.

Early in the book, Christensen discusses the two factor theory of motivation, including hygiene factors and motivation factors.  People love their work when they are key members of a team that is doing meaningful work; they have an opportunity to learn new skills; and they receive increasingly more responsibility.  Yet graduating MBA’s routinely accept positions based on the highest salary offer.  In addition, graduates may form mental strategies for what they want in business and in life, but they fail to allocate resources to execute them.  High achieving people often unconsciously allocate resources that yield immediate results, such as a promotion or a bonus, but underinvest in activities with a long-term focus, such as raising children.  As a result, instead of being a source of immense satisfaction, their children are often strangers.

Through his research on innovation, Christensen developed a theory about marketing and product development, “the job to be done.”   What causes a consumer to buy a product or service can be thought of as a hiring decision – the consumer hires a product to do a certain job. Companies that develop products that help consumers do a job perfectly are rewarded with loyal customers.  Likewise, spouses or partners are hired to do a job in the family.  Partners who understand what their job is and who devote time and effort to doing the job reliably are rewarded with happiness at home.

This thought provoking book is recommended for all readers.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
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