Saturday, October 27, 2012

How will you measure your life ? - Clayton M Christensen

In the year 2010, Clayton Christensen, a Harward Professor, gave a lecture to the students on this theme. In his introduction, he mention his own days of successful completion of MBA and his first few College re-union.  What he found out in those meetings - the 5 yr, 10yr and 15yr re-unions- is that the number of alumni attended the meeting came down as the years progressed, and despite their high earning, high profile jobs, there was certain undercurrent of unhappiness in most of them. Many of his classmates were either divorced, or living separately. Many with multiple similar relationship broken over short span of time. Many were alone. And one of his classmate was now in jail, serving term for fraudulent activities ( you all know the company). 

After he was diagnosed ( and successfully coming out of it) with a cancer, which took the life of his father few years earlier, he deliberated on this question, coming up with the lecture and the book. The book, is the result of those lectures, in which Clayton expands his theory of successful career and successful life. Citing examples from corporate experiences, his own firm and the others, he connect his theories between a successful company and a happy individual. Smartly dividing the books into 3 parts focusing on "Finding Happiness in your Career", Finding happiness in your relationships"and most importantly "Staying out of Jail".

Under a catchy and often confusing title of the book (for a self help), Clayton brings out certain important aspect of managing ones career and ones life. At the outset , these aren't ground breaking ideas and not something new to us. But in the 200 odd pages, he manages to get us into his theories with some good connection between the career and life.

A topic many books have already covered, he explains the motivational factors and the hygiene factors in an employee. While it is important to maintain the hygiene factory ( like salary, promotion) , he emphasize on identifying the right motivational factors.
"the most powerful motivator isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute, and be recognized"
Also on strategy, I liked his take on deliberate versus emerging strategies. From many example, we see, most of the successful companies, the strategy was not discussed on drawing boards, but evolved from various experiments.

 On the relationship , it is important to understand your priorities, and provide assistance to your kids in experiencing the tasks by themselves even if they fail in accomplishing the task.  With the current level of high action, one has to be imbibed with integrity to self and to the society, which has to begin at home. It is important to invest in future happiness. An investment need to be continual and through out your life.

In developing capabilities, either for an organization or for an individual, three factors are important : Resources, Processes and Priorities. Most often repeated mistakes are by providing resources without adequate processes.

He conclude:  "Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success"

A mishmash of Management and self help , Clayton Christensen uses the corporate learning to a successful personal life. Good read and a couple of interesting theories , especially the "emerging strategies" and on the "resource-process-priorities".
How will you measure your life ? ( 2012)

Clayton M Christensen

Harper Collins

221 Pags
HBR , TED Lecture, Forbes ,

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