Harvard Business School professor and bestselling author Dr. Clayton Christensen asserts that his latest book "How Will You Measure Your Life" "...will equip you to lead the type of life to which you truly aspire". Having just finished the book, I couldn't agree more: the presentation was clear and the explanations rich and relatable.
What really fascinated me in Clayton's latest book is this: the fact that most situations in life require an investment, and regardless of what you think your priorities are, it is where you invest your resources (time, money, energy) that truly determines your priorities. Life is not determined by a few huge decisions but instead by "...hundreds of every day decisions about where we spend our resources," writes Clayton Christensen in "How Will You Measure Your Life".
Watch Clayton Christensen's latest keynote on the Innovator's Dilemma from the 2016 Startup Grind Global Conference, and see the full fireside chat between Christensen and Marc Andreessen here.
From Home to Business, The Life of a Disruptor
Translating this into companies, the interpretation is almost the same. Companies might have great values, mission and vision... but take a look at the expense report, or the schedule of the CEO, and then you will - truly - have a clear understanding of the company's priorities.
Let's take disruptive innovation as an example. Most technology-focused or even technology-enabled companies, if asked, will describe themselves as innovators and will even go so far as to state that innovation is one of their top values. Sounds great, right?
The reality, however, is rarely true to the pitch. On analysis of where the company's resources are being allocated, you'll often find R&D and innovation initiatives comprise less than 5% percent of their budget. That doesn't scream priority, it screams "drop in the bucket" - and if you're a startup founder, it screams even more loudly, "opportunity for innovative disruption."
ROI: Calculating the Return on Innovation
Innovation is not an easy topic to price out and tackle head-on. In most cases, it does not have a clear return on investment, it does not bring results in the short term, and every innovation will bring different values to the table - often with many failed attempts and dead ends along the way. One of the situations that Dr. Clayton Christensen explains in "How Will You Measure Your Life" is what I call the "back to the future" problem.
What does the book mean? It means making a decision today just based on present facts without taking in consideration future conditions and changes is, most of the time, a mistake.
Clayton Christensen explains that companies "...usually crunch the numbers to decide what to do from a perspective of it´s existing operations." This is a mistake since they are not considering the cost of not investing in innovation. Usually, companies will compare the cost/benefit of the research and development of a new product versus the performance of existing products, assuming that existing products will always perform the same way, that the market will not change and that the cost of producing it will always be the same.
Here's the problem: the market will change, new competitors will eventually seek your customers, and without new ideas, a company will be ill-prepared to take advantage of these opportunities and challenges. Innovation should not be compared with existing products. For example, the first iMac had nothing to do with the iPhone: they were never compared in order to be developed, because they were totally new.
Innovate in Business, Innovate in Life
Innovation represents future, and should always be a flow, not a task. If you truly analyze your company with fresh eyes, making no assumptions that the ways things are indeed the ways they should be, it won't be hard to find ways to innovate internally (finding ways to increase efficiency or performance) or externally through new products or services.
Innovation means investing in the future, the lack of innovation should make your company or organization worry about how it will adapt to an always transforming market. Take stock, as you only improve what you measure.
So measure your life - and be innovative.
Available as a printed novel, as an online ebook download, or an audiobook download or stream though Audible, Clayton Christensen has fully embraced the disruption happening in the world of publishing. Get it today and see Dr. Clayton Christensen in a rare public appearance with renowned venture capital investor Marc Andreessen at this year's Startup Grind Global Conference on February 23rd & 24th - get your ticket!
See Clayton Christensen's Keynote on the Innovator's Dilemma at Startup Grind 2013