Friday, February 1, 2013

How will you measure your life ? book review

I just finished reading “How will you measure your life” co-authored by management guru Clayton Christensen. Here are my reactions on the book
The book makes for an interesting read because it does not promise to be yet another  mushy self-help book. Although the book has distinct biographical overtones, the author does not spend much time –thankfully – reflecting on his fight with Cancer or Ischemic stroke. In the book the authors creatively intersperse business case studies and anecdotes with life lessons.

The narrative speaks to business professionals’ comfortable reading case studies and business jargon. The self-help tips are too few and far between the narratives: just enough to get the reader to think of personal circumstances without sounding preachy.

A few sections that resonated with me:

What makes us tick: of course it’s not just money! Even though monetary benefits are certainly big motivators, finding the balance between other motivators and hygiene factors is the key. The section tries to make the reader ponder, without suggesting there are easy answers

Balance of calculation and serendipity: starts with an interesting case study of Honda’s entry into the US market. In the section on “When Wall street journal didn’t respond” Clayton also reflects on his road not taken. There are a few practical nuggets here. While taking on a new job, ask yourself “what are the assumptions that I have to prove true in order for me to be able to succeed in this assignment?” and “why do you think this is something you are going to enjoy?”

The section on “finding happiness in your relationship” emphasizes the need to find a work life balance. The section on the “risk of sequencing life investments” resonated with my own thinking. The flip side is when attempts to find work-life balance backfires on both fronts, but that is yet another risk one has to mitigate.

“What job did you hire that milkshake for?” starts with a case study of IKEA’s business model and another project researching milkshakes Christensen did for a “big fast food” restaurant chain. Astute consultants I have worked for have the ability to very quickly judge the exact nature of job they are hired to do, and more importantly seek the right resources to meet the need. The authors take the thinking to the next level by making readers reflect on understanding “your role in making people you love happy”

Section on “sailing your kids on Theseus's Ship" has some musings on the right and wrong kind of outsourcing. The author builds off from Dell’s sourcing to Asus that the vendor ultimately used to outsmart Dell. Tip: never outsource the future. Personal implication “many parents are doing to their children what dell did to its personal computing business, removing circumstances in which they can develop processes”

Section on “Schools of experience” should resonate with most professionals: who hasn’t experienced professional failure or a setback? But there again how many of us have learnt from these failures?

Read, refelct and enjoy.