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Customer Review

142 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding -, May 16, 2012
This review is from: How Will You Measure Your Life? (Hardcover)
This book grew out of Christensen's address to the HBS Class of 2010. When they entered the school our economy was strong and their ambitions could be limitless. Then came an economic tailspin that we've named the 'Great Recession.' His address to the graduates, and the focus of this book, centered on how to apply his principles to their personal lives.

His first key point is that when people ask what he thinks they should do, he has learned to rarely directly answer their question. Instead, he runs the question through one of his models involving an industry quite different from their own. Then, more often than not, they'll say "I get it,' and answer their own question more insight fully than he believes he could have.

On the last day of class Christensen asks his students to apply the models he's presented during the course to themselves to answer three questions: 1)How can I be sure I'll be happy in my career? 2)How can I be certain my relationships with my family become an enduring source of happiness. 3)How can I be certain I'll stay out of jail. (Not a facetious question - Jeff Skilling was Christensen's classmate at HBS, and two of the 32 in his Rhodes scholar class spend time in jail.)

Addressing the first question, Christensen references Frederick Herzberg's assertion that money isn't the most powerful motivator in our lives - it's the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. He also points out that if management is practiced well it helps others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized. Doing business deals doesn't provide the deep rewards that come from building up people.

Clayton's recommended approach to the second question is based on his own having spent an hour each night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put him on this earth. Finding a purpose is essential to avoiding a hollow life. Personal decisions then can be seen as involving the allocation of time, energy, and talent - just like in a business. His assessment of why some lives end up hollow and unhappy - they had a short-term perspective.

The simplest tools that parents can use to elicit cooperation from children are power tools - eg. coercion. But these no longer work at some time. Building an appropriate culture from the start would have been more effective.

As for the third question - Christensen suggests thinking of marginal costs, always alluring low for 'just this once' situation. The problem is that after 'that once,' repeating the mistake becomes much easier in the future. It's easier to hold on to one's principles 100% of the time than 98% of the time.

Finally, he also adds that if one's attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you (eg. such as parents, professors), one's learning opportunities will be very limited. Humility, however, allows learning from everybody and unlimited learning.

Others who know Professor Christensen believe he could add three other keys for success, based on his own conduct over the decades:

1)Have an eternal quest for truth, and focus on high-impact issues.

2)Believe in basic goodness - this helps identify root problems.

3)Persistence - his 1997 'The Innovator's Dilemma" won the Global Best business book award. He could have stopped there. Instead he continued and wrote seven mass-market books, and an additional 13 HBR articles, including three that won McKinsey awards.

Bottom-Line: An incredibly valuable book from an outstanding human being and teacher.
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