Clayton Christensen: Measure Your Life

Clayton Christensen - Measure Your LIfeThe Book

Clayton Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon, How Will You Measure Your Life

Book Reviews

It’s kinda strange to be writing a Book Review about Book Reviews. And, in this case, it’s relevant. This book was originally published in 2012. And, back then I was excited that Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, creator of the concept of Disruptive Innovation, had written a new book for me to read.

However, the one and only review I read of this book was that it was all about ‘business applied to life’ and the reviewer suggested this simply didn’t work. Plus the reviewer was critical that Christensen’s religious views clouded the book. That wasn’t a particularly encouraging review… So, naturally I didn’t seek out the book.

Recently I was stalking the library (yes, again… it’s become a habit!) and I stumbled across this book. After a two-minute flick through the pages at the library shelf I decided it was worth a read.

So, be careful about Book Reviews… (Even this one!) They are a guide only. And, like a movie reviewer you do need to find a source of reviews that fits your preferences around books, movies, etc. In this case, this reviewer’s worldview didn’t fit for me.

Being a CEO in Your Life

At it’s simplest level, this book is business applied to your personal life.

It was birthed after Christensen delivered a speech to a graduating class at Harvard University. He was teasing out the success and failure of many of his fellow students from his undergraduate days – there were almost as many miserable failures as spectacular successes across careers, marriages and relationships. He even pointed to several individuals that had fallen from grace and found themselves in jail. This is a dramatic change in fortunes from healthy head start they had been given by being able to attend and graduate from one of the premier business schools on the planet.

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Christensen then put his business hat on and laid his usual strategic frameworks over our personal lives to identify where some of us go wrong. I found this particularly interesting.

Some of the key ideas include:

  • Motivation and Incentives – In business we often reward our employees with financial incentives, bonuses and increasing salaries. Yet, from a personal perspective money only makes us happy in a limited way. Sometimes we need to consider what currency we want to be paid in to grow our families and friends and not just our careers and our possession count.
  • Emergent and Deliberate Strategy – Deliberate strategy is when you plan to do X and you stick at it until you complete it. Emergent strategy is when you spot opportunities along your journey to X and allow yourself to take the new route. Christensen suggests we need both in business and in our lives. Are you on a fixed path or open to what shows up?
  • Strategy and Decision-Making – The key to a great strategy is the implementation. And, this relies on a series of constant decisions that allocate resources along the way. For instance, in business we need to choose between how much to invest in new equipment, new staff and up-skilling our existing team. In our lives, this can be as simple as where you spend your time on the weekend – with family, friends or alone?

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Read This Because…

This book has two sharp edges to it. The first is a series of important concepts to sharpen your understanding of business. And, the second is to use these as a unique framework for reviewing your personal life. If either your business or your personal life is not going to plan and the usual self-help stories are not your thing, then you might find this book to be highly interesting and super useful.


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