Clay Christensen on how to replace the “tired paradigm” of “playing the odds” with a theory that explains “how things work.”

christensenclaytonIn Clay Christensen’s latest book, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice (published by HarperBusiness, October 2016), written with Toddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David Duncan, he asserts that “the foundation of [his and his collaborators’] thinking is the Theory of Jobs to Be Done, which focuses on deeply understanding your customers’ struggle for progress and then creating the right solution and attendant set of experiences to ensure you solve your customers’ jobs well, every time. ‘Theory’ may conjure up images of ivory tower musings, but I assure you that it is the most practical and useful tool we can offer you.”

Moreover, “Good theory helps us understand ‘how’ and ‘why.’ It helps us make sense of how the world works and predict the consequences of our decisions and actions. Jobs Theory [a concept that is interchangeable with Theory of Jobs to Be Done], we believe, can move companies [and more specifically, their leaders] beyond hoping that correlation is enough to the causal mechanism of successful innovation.” This is a key point and helps to suggest the meaning and significance of this book’s title.

This observation really says it all: “If you know how innovation works — what truly causes innovation to succeed — your efforts don’t have to be left to fate…Leave relying on luck to the other guys.”

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