Cu multumiri Madalinei ca mi l-a dat.
Autorul: Clayton M. Christensen = is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
How Will You Measure Your Life?
by Clayton M. Christensen
Editorʼs Note: When the members of the class of 2010 entered business school, the economy was strong and their postgraduation
ambitions could be limitless. Just a few weeks later, the economy went into a tailspin. Theyʼve spent the past two
years recalibrating their worldview and their definition of success.
The students seem highly aware of how the world has changed (as the sampling of views in this article shows). In the spring,
Harvard Business Schoolʼs graduating class asked HBS professor Clay Christensen to address them—but not on how to apply
his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers. The students wanted to know how to apply them to their personal lives.
He shared with them a set of guidelines that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensenʼs thinking
comes from his deep religious faith, we believe that these are strategies anyone can use. And so we asked him to share them
with the readers of HBR.
Before I published The Innovatorʼs Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel. He had read one of
my early papers about disruptive technology, and he asked if I could talk to his direct reports and explain my research and what
it implied for Intel. Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, “Look, stuff
has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel.” I said that I couldnʼt—
that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make
sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: “Look, Iʼve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”
I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different
industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel
minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward
the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.
When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is…,” and then went on to articulate what
would become the companyʼs strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.
Iʼve thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the
microprocessor business, Iʼd have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he
reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.
That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question
directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. Iʼll describe how the process in the model worked its way
through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, theyʼll say, “OK, I get it.” And theyʼll answer
their own question more insightfully than I could have.
My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that
backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general managerʼs
job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using
them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.
On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three
questions: First, how can I be sure that Iʼll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my
spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure Iʼll stay out of jail? Though the last
question sounds lighthearted, itʼs not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron
fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong
The Class of 2010 (Located at the end of this article)
As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how
they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.
One of the theories that gives great insight on the first question—how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from
Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isnʼt money; itʼs the opportunity to learn, grow in
responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I
was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mindʼs eye I saw one of my managers leave for work
one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling
unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way
she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater
self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in
the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My
conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if itʼs practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to
help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.
More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in
companies. Thatʼs unfortunate. Doing deals doesnʼt yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.
I want students to leave my classroom knowing that.
Create a Strategy for Your Life
A theory that is helpful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be
an enduring source of happiness?—concerns how strategy is defined and implemented. Its primary insight is that a companyʼs
strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in. If a companyʼs resource allocation process is not
managed masterfully, what emerges from it can be very different from what management intended. Because companiesʼ
decision-making systems are designed to steer investments to initiatives that offer the most tangible and immediate returns,
companies shortchange investments in initiatives that are crucial to their long-term strategies.
Over the years Iʼve watched the fates of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold; Iʼve seen more and more of them come to
reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with
the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking
number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didnʼt keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they
decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.
Itʼs quite startling that a significant fraction of the 900 students that HBS draws each year from the worldʼs best have given little
thought to the purpose of their lives. I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that
question. If they think that theyʼll have more time and energy to reflect later, theyʼre nuts, because life only gets more
demanding: You take on a mortgage; youʼre working 70 hours a week; you have a spouse and children.
For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I
understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra yearʼs
worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put
me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasnʼt studying
applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck
with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.
Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in
regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my
knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. Itʼs the single most useful thing Iʼve ever learned. I promise my students that if
they take the time to figure out their life purpose, theyʼll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If
they donʼt figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life. Clarity about their
purpose will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four
Ps, and the five forces.
My purpose grew out of my religious faith, but faith isnʼt the only thing that gives people direction. For example, one of my
former students decided that his purpose was to bring honesty and economic prosperity to his country and to raise children
who were as capably committed to this cause, and to each other, as he was. His purpose is focused on family and others—as
The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can
Allocate Your Resources
Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your lifeʼs strategy.
I have a bunch of “businesses” that compete for these resources: Iʼm trying to have a rewarding relationship with my wife, raise
great kids, contribute to my community, succeed in my career, contribute to my church, and so on. And I have exactly the
same problem that a corporation does. I have a limited amount of time and energy and talent. How much do I devote to each
of these pursuits?
Allocation choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended. Sometimes thatʼs good:
Opportunities that you never planned for emerge. But if you misinvest your resources, the outcome can be bad. As I think
about my former classmates who inadvertently invested for lives of hollow unhappiness, I canʼt help believing that their
troubles relate right back to a short-term perspective.
When people who have a high need for achievement—and that includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an
extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, theyʼll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible
accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that weʼre moving forward. You ship a product, finish a
design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing
time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesnʼt offer that same immediate sense of
achievement. Kids misbehave every day. Itʼs really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips
and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day
basis, it doesnʼt seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to
underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families
are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.
If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over youʼll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer
immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, youʼll see the same stunning and sobering pattern:
people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
Create a Culture
Thereʼs an important model in our class called the Tools of Cooperation, which basically says that being a visionary manager
isnʼt all itʼs cracked up to be. Itʼs one thing to see into the foggy future with acuity and chart the course corrections that the
company must make. But itʼs quite another to persuade employees who might not see the changes ahead to line up and work
cooperatively to take the company in that new direction. Knowing what tools to wield to elicit the needed cooperation is a
critical managerial skill.
The theory arrays these tools along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they
want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired
results. When there is little agreement on both axes, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on
—to secure cooperation. Many companies start in this quadrant, which is why the founding executive team must play such an
assertive role in defining what must be done and how. If employeesʼ ways of working together to address those tasks succeed
over and over, consensus begins to form. MITʼs Edgar Schein has described this process as the mechanism by which a culture
is built. Ultimately, people donʼt even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and
follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that theyʼve created a culture.
Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address
recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. It can be a powerful management tool.
In using this model to address the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness?, my
students quickly see that the simplest tools that parents can wield to elicit cooperation from children are power tools. But there
comes a point during the teen years when power tools no longer work. At that point parents start wishing that they had begun
working with their children at a very young age to build a culture at home in which children instinctively behave respectfully
toward one another, obey their parents, and choose the right thing to do. Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those
cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.
If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities wonʼt
magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your familyʼs culture—and you have to think about this very
early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.
Avoid the “Marginal Costs” Mistake
Weʼre taught in finance and economics that in evaluating alternative investments, we should ignore sunk and fixed costs, and
instead base decisions on the marginal costs and marginal revenues that each alternative entails. We learn in our course that
this doctrine biases companies to leverage what they have put in place to succeed in the past, instead of guiding them to
create the capabilities theyʼll need in the future. If we knew the future would be exactly the same as the past, that approach
would be fine. But if the futureʼs different—and it almost always is—then itʼs the wrong thing to do.
This theory addresses the third question I discuss with my students—how to live a life of integrity (stay out of jail).
Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A
voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldnʼt do this. But in this particular extenuating
circumstance, just this once, itʼs OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low.
It suckers you in, and you donʼt ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails.
Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”
Iʼd like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life. I played on the
Oxford University varsity basketball team. We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated. The guys on the team
were the best friends Iʼve ever had in my life. We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament—and made it to the
final four. It turned out the championship game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. I had made a personal commitment
to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday. So I went to the coach and explained my problem. He was
incredulous. My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center. Every one of the guys on the team came to me and
said, “Youʼve got to play. Canʼt you break the rule just this one time?”
Iʼm a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do. I got a very clear feeling that I shouldnʼt break
my commitment—so I didnʼt play in the championship game.
In many ways that was a small decision—involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life. In theory, surely I could have
crossed over the line just that one time and then not done it again. But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic
was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, itʼs OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life.
Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have
done it over and over in the years that followed.
The lesson I learned from this is that itʼs easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the
time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, youʼll
regret where you end up. Youʼve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.
Remember the Importance of Humility
I got this insight when I was asked to teach a class on humility at Harvard College. I asked all the students to describe the
most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem.
They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by selfdeprecating
behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind
of humility. For example, you would never steal from someone, because you respect that person too much. Youʼd never lie to
Itʼs crucial to take a sense of humility into the world. By the time you make it to a top graduate school, almost all your learning
has come from people who are smarter and more experienced than you: parents, teachers, bosses. But once youʼve finished
at Harvard Business School or any other top academic institution, the vast majority of people youʼll interact with on a day-today
basis may not be smarter than you. And if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your
learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your
learning opportunities will be unlimited. Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself—and you want
to help those around you feel really good about themselves, too. When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or
demeaning manner toward others, their behavior almost always is a symptom of their lack of self-esteem. They need to put
someone else down to feel good about themselves.
Choose the Right Yardstick
This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than Iʼd planned.
Thankfully, it now looks as if Iʼll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.
I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I
know Iʼve had a substantial impact. But as Iʼve confronted this disease, itʼs been interesting to see how unimportant that impact
is to me now. Iʼve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isnʼt dollars but the individual people whose lives
I think thatʼs the way it will work for us all. Donʼt 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.
The Class of 2010
“I came to business school knowing exactly what I wanted to do—and Iʼm leaving choosing the exact opposite. Iʼve worked in
the private sector all my life, because everyone always told me thatʼs where smart people are. But Iʼve decided to try
government and see if I can find more meaning there.
“I used to think that industry was very safe. The recession has shown us that nothing is safe.”
Ruhana Hafiz, Harvard Business School, Class of 2010
Her Plans: To join the FBI as a special adviser (a management track position)
“You could see a shift happening at HBS. Money used to be number one in the job search. When you make a ton of money,
you want more of it. Ironic thing. You start to forget what the drivers of happiness are and what things are really important. A lot
of people on campus see money differently now. They think, ʻWhatʼs the minimum I need to have, and what else drives my
life?ʼ instead of ʻWhatʼs the place where I can get the maximum of both?ʼ”
Patrick Chun, Harvard Business School, Class of 2010
His Plans: To join Bain Capital
“The financial crisis helped me realize that you have to do what you really love in life. My current vision of success is based on
the impact I can have, the experiences I can gain, and the happiness I can find personally, much more so than the pursuit of
money or prestige. My main motivations are (1) to be with my family and people I care about; (2) to do something fun, exciting,
and impactful; and (3) to pursue a long-term career in entrepreneurship, where I can build companies that change the way the
Matt Salzberg, Harvard Business School, Class of 2010
His Plans: To work for Bessemer Venture Partners
“Because Iʼm returning to McKinsey, it probably seems like not all that much has changed for me. But while I was at HBS, I
decided to do the dual degree at the Kennedy School. With the elections in 2008 and the economy looking shaky, it seemed
more compelling for me to get a better understanding of the public and nonprofit sectors. In a way, that drove my return to
McKinsey, where Iʼll have the ability to explore private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
“The recession has made us step back and take stock of how lucky we are. The crisis to us is ʻAre we going to have a job by
April?ʼ Crisis to a lot of people is ʻAre we going to stay in our home?ʼ”
John Coleman, Harvard Business School, Class of 2010
His Plans: To return to McKinsey & Company