Clayton Christensen is known more for his business books then as a life coach. He is a award winning author of many books on disruption, how to see it, how to overcome it and where next. He has continued that work with his team to use them in the social sector, including healthcare and education. And now, we find that having gone through many life threatening illness (cancer, heart attack and stroke) in three years he comes out strong and comes out with his new book, How will you Measure your life?. His co-authors are James Allworth, a consultant and Harvard MBA, and Karen Dillon, former editor of the Harvard Business Review.
I am going to do two things. One, summarize and review the book in this blog and two, connect the learning to my life and to the other part of what this blog is dedicated to – the social sector. How can business tools be used in the social sector?
The book is an extension of his work with this Harvard MBA Class where he prompts them to use the theories they have learned about in business to their life. And this consists of three questions.
- Finding happiness in your career?
- Finding happiness in your relationships?
- Staying out of Jail.
What can business theories do for our life? Does it even make sense to think like that? Christensen wrote a much sought after HBR article which is the basis of this book. If you have read that, you know that this makes sense.
He starts the book with a Prologue on the difference between “what to think?” and “how to think?”. This book is about “how to think?” and using that knowledge in your own life.
He goes on to explain the power of a theory. He explains the theory of flying and how we originally confused the idea of flying with having feathers and only after we understood the theories of “lift” and “gravity” etc we had human flight. The main takeaway – understanding the difference between causation and correlation.
The biggest takeaway for me is that we need a very well thought through and grounded theory for our life. I do not have a theory or set of theories for my life. Yes, I do believe in some things, I have principles, I like somethings and dislike others. But do I have theories that guide my life? No. If they are, they are very loosely set in my mind and they do not guide my thinking always.
If I can take one big learning out of this, it is that I need to start explicitly putting together the principles and theories that make sense for me. Theories that are put to test and work. Principles that I want to stand by. And these will have a effect on my family, my relationships and especially, my daughter.
Drucker talked about “Theory of the Business” and that article in HBR stands as one of the most critical pieces of thinking that any organisational leader need to understand. What is the theory that drives your business? I have seen many leaders in the government and not for profits who have two issues 1) they do not know the theory or 2) they have an outdated theory of the business and it does not work now.
Ofcourse, working with human beings mean that “theory of change” is not that easy however, we need to think through and understand what is our theory of the business.