Competing Against Luck

The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

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

Book

How do leaders know how to grow? How can they create products that they are sure customers want to buy? Can innovation be more than a game of chance? The foremost authority on innovation and growth, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and his coauthors Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan have the answer. A generation ago, Christensen revolutionized business with his groundbreaking theory of disruption—a way to predict how competitors will respond to different types of innovation. In this book he examines the other side of the puzzle: what causes growth, and how to create it.

After years of research, Christensen, Hall, Dillon, and Duncan have come to one critical conclusion: our long-held maxim—that the crux of innovation is knowing more and more about the customer—is wrong. Customers don’t simply buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. Understanding customers does not drive innovation success, the authors argue. Understanding customer jobs does. The “Jobs to Be Done” approach can be seen in some of the world’s most respected companies and fast-growing startups, including Amazon, Intuit, Uber, and Airbnb to name just a few. But this book is not about celebrating these successes—it’s about predicting new ones. Christensen and his coauthors contend that by understanding what causes customers to “hire” a product or service, any manager can improve their innovation track record, creating products that customers not only want to hire, but that they’ll pay premium prices to bring into their lives. Jobs theory offers new hope for growth to companies frustrated by their hit-or-miss efforts.

This book carefully lays down the authors’ provocative framework, providing a comprehensive explanation of the theory, why it’s predictive, and, most important, how to use it to improve innovation in the real world.

Authors

Clayton M. Christensen

CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN is the Kim B. Clark Professor at Harvard Business School, the author of nine books, a five-time recipient of the McKinsey Award for Harvard Business Review’s best article, and the cofounder of four companies, including the innovation consulting firm Innosight. In 2011 and 2013 he was named the world’s most influential business thinker in a biennial ranking conducted by Thinkers50.

 

TADDY HALL is a principal with the Cambridge Group and a leader of Nielsen’s Breakthrough Innovation Project. In these capacities, he helps senior executives create successful new products and improve innovation processes. He also works extensively with executives in emerging markets as an advisor to the nonprofit Endeavor.

 

KAREN DILLON is the former editor of the Harvard Business Review and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller How Will You Measure Your Life? She is a graduate of Cornell University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In 2011 she was named by Ashoka as one of the world’s most influential and inspiring women.

 

DAVID S. DUNCAN is a senior partner at Innosight. He’s a leading thinker and advisor to senior executives on innovation strategy and growth, helping them navigate disruptive change, create sustainable growth, and transform their organizations to thrive for the long term. He is a graduate of Duke University and earned a PhD in physics from Harvard University.