Competing Against Luck

The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan

Publisher: Harper, 2016, 262 pages

ISBN: 978-0-06-243561-3

Keywords: Product Management

Last modified: May 3, 2019, 7:58 p.m.

Organizations around the world have devoted countless resources — including time, energy, and mindshare of top executives — to the challenge of innovation. And they have, naturally, optimized what they do for efficiency.

But if all this effort is aimed at answering the wrong questions, it's sitting on a very tenuous foundation.

As W. Edwards Deming is also credited with observing, every process is perfectly designed to deliver the results it gets. If we believe that innovation is messy and imperfect and unknowable, we build processes that operationalize those beliefs. And that's what many companies have done: unwittingly designed innovation processes that perfectly churn out mediocrity. They spend time and money compiling data-rich models that make them masters of description but failures at prediction.

We don't have to settle for that. There is a better question to ask — one that can help us understand the causality underlying a customer's decision to pull a new product into his or her life. What job did you hire that product to do. The good news is that if you build your foundation on the pursuit of understanding your customers'jobs, your strategy will no longer need to rely on luck. In fact, you'll be competing against luck when others are still counting on it. You'll see the world with new eyes. Different competitors, different priorities, and most important, different results. You can leave hit-or-miss innovation behind.

    • Introduction: Why You Should Hire This Book
  • Section 1: An introduction to Jobs Theory
    1. The Milk Shake Dilemma
    2. Progress, Not Products
    3. Jobs In the Wild
  • Section 2: The Hard Work — and Payoff — of Applying Jobs Theory
    1. Job Hunting
    2. How to Hear What Your Customers Don't Say
    3. Building Your Résumé
  • Section 3: The Jobs to Be Done Organization
    1. Integrating Around a Job
    2. Keeping Your Eye on the Job
    3. The Jobs-Focused Organization
    4. Final Observations About the Theory of Jobs