Marks54's Reviews > How Will You Measure Your Life?

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
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Sep 03, 2012

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Read on September 03, 2012

This book is an effort by a well known Harvard Business School prof, notable for his work on the dangers of marginal thinking in innovative industries (The Innovator's Dilemma) that attempts to apply theories of motivation, management, and strategy to the task of self management. Apparently the author's experiences with illness, aging, and other aspects of his life combined to convince him that such an effort would be worthwhile. It is a short book and reads fairly quickly.

I am giving the book three stars because I believe it to be an honest effort that was written in good faith and with the best of intentions. I doubt that I could have been anywhere near as open and the book is not without insights.

Overall, I was disappointed with the book. The difficult task for a project like this is to provide an insight beyond what most of us can get from thinking carefully and honestly about our own experiences. I noted few if any of these and was left wondering what I had missed. For example, people are motivated by both monetary and non-monetary factors, not just incentives (Herzberg versus Jensen/Meckling)-- not exactly news. Then, we find out that things in life sometimes develop unexpectedly rather than according to plan -- another surprise!? All of the points raised are reasonable and defensible but there is little that has not already appeared somewhere in the Harvard Business Review.

When the advice goes to marriage and the running of the family, there is more of the same that may prove useful to new parents but will seem like old hat to more experienced ones -- don't be a helicopter parent, don't do everything for your child, provide your child the opportunity to deal with difficult situations. Again, all this is fine, but hardly novel. (Perhaps I have just had a greater opportunity to learn from my own mistakes.) I wasn't expecting "August Osage County" type issues but was hoping for a bit more. The concluding discussion on integrity was fairly good, although the issue of getting up after a fall is more relevant to most of us than avoiding falls.

I do appreciate the author's efforts in producing this book. It is very unusual among business book authors (whether professors or consultants) and I wish others would follow this lead.
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