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How Will You Measure Your Life?

by Venky

This short but powerfully influential book has the potential to not only spur the reader towards bouts of engaging introspection, but also to steer the course of key and critical decisions which one otherwise would be prone to exercise – sans much judiciousness – in both his/her personal and professional lives. Whether it be a company prioritising the new launch of a product or a parent charting the lives of their children, “How will you measure your life” has precocious dollops of wisdom and guidance following which will enable leading purposeful, fulfilling and measurable lives. I deliberately employ the word measure since, Clayton Christensen provides a pathway of metrics using which one can evaluate the purposefulness (or the lack of it) characterising one’s life.

Citing interesting and impactful real life examples influencing both business and individual perceptions, this visionary author, professor and management expert attempts to lend a sense of balance and contentment to activities and practices which we have tended to take for granted in our day-to-day churn of life and livelihood. Exorting us to spend more time with our families and to consciously stop ‘outsourcing’ principles that make a difference in the lives of our children, Christensen provides a fascinating example of how a series of imprudent outsourcing of functions by Dell to a Taiwanese company Asus, resulted in the former inadvertantly outsourcing fundamental and key capabilities to the latter and thereby suffering a significant jolt when Asus started manufacturing its own brand of laptops.

Yet another striking example provided by Chrsitensen deals with the perils of what he terms ‘Marginal thinking’ as opposed to ‘Full Cost thinking’. The marginal cost thinking sacrifices long term growth for short term profits comparing the marginal revenue advantages to the marginal costs incurred. By the time the folly of such flawed thinking comes to startling light, the damage caused is unfortunately irreparable and the consequences irreversible. A classic case in point is the callous complacency displayed by Blockbuster when meeting the challenges posed by Netflix. The marketing mavens in Blockbuster dismissed the advances and strategies of Netflix as catering to a small and insignificant ‘niche’ market. This ‘blockbuster’ of a blunder led to the once unchallenged market leader of movie rentals not only surrendering its market share to the ‘pretender’ but also declaring bankruptcy in 2011.

Similarly, it is the marginal thinking that makes us compromise on resolutions and renege on principles. The “just this once” mentality leads to incremental accumulation of adverse habits whose ultimate collection and consequence, by the time they to light have created so much adverse damage so as to wreck lives. Hence as Christensen elucidates 100% always is better than 98% most of the time.

“How Will You Measure Your Life” makes for reading that is essential, effervescent, evocation and enduring

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