How Will You Measure Your Life? | Book Review

General Observations

Clayton Christensen, along with two of his [former] Harvard MBA students James Allworth and Karen Dillon have written a powerful and reflective book we should all read and think about.

There is a surprise near the end of the book (Epilogue page 204), which adds great power to the author’s story, and encourages personal reflection. Don’t peek ahead though!

Thoughts on What Makes Us Tick

In Chapter two, Christensen describes his journey into sources of motivation and finds great resonance with Frederick Herzberg’s theory. At a personal level, Herzberg’s theory is very attractive to me and usually I share that during day two of Boot Camp. Pages 32-41 provide wonderful reinforcement of Herzberg’s Theory and are well worth multiple readings.

Applications to Academy Leadership:

On pages 37 and 38, Christensen describes a story about building a playhouse for his kids and he realizes that the journey, or the act of building the playhouse was the motivator, rather than the destination. For him, it was a revelation.

There’s a great corollary for each of us as facilitators. We can probably strengthen delivery of the Motivating People module in Socratic fashion by asking Boot Camp participants whether they or their teams have been focusing on hygiene factors as primary career goals (e.g. income).

Thoughts on What Job Did You Hire That Milkshake For?:

This is my favorite chapter, with application to business strategy, personal life, and High Payoff Activities (HPAs). Christensen explains the success of IKEA in a way we probably haven’t thought about, and it is a great example how we may have deeper discussion with our Academy Leadership clients.

Applications to Academy Leadership:

On page 112, in the What Job Are You Being Hired For? Section, Christensen reinforces our need to understand what job we are being hired for in our personal and professional lives. Naturally, this aligns with the HPA exercise in our Time Management module. The book is worth recommending to Boot Camp attendees for further reinforcement and HPA development.

Thoughts on | Section III | Staying Out Of Jail:

Christensen found himself wondering why otherwise ethical people make so many destructive and unethical decisions. His Marginal Thinking construct is useful and well aligned with our Leader’s Compass development. The stories in this chapter provide excellent examples and reinforcement for us to think about and share; with Christensen concluding we must Decide what we stand for. And then stand for it all the time.

Thoughts on The Three Parts of Purpose:

On pages 195-196 in the epilogue, Christensen details three elements for the purpose of a company: likeness, commitment, and metrics. This is both useful for us as Academy Leadership stewards, as well as for sharing with clients both during Boot Camp and afterward in follow-on programs.

A final thought: co-author James Allworth and Karen Dillon’s acknowledgements serve as a reminder to us of the power of recognizing young talent and creating growth opportunities for them.

JE | July 2012