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

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

Clayton M. Christensen

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

Clayton M. Christensen

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

Clayton M. Christensen

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.

Reviews

Clay Christensen and his co-authors have presented critical business thinkers and doers with a breakthrough theory that will change how leaders approach innovation by reverse engineering from a high value and focused customer job to be done. I have read it cover to cover--and will ask my top team to do the same. —Ron Frank, IBM

Competing Against Luck offers fresh thinking on how to get innovation right. Clayton Christensen and his coauthors offer a compelling take on how to truly understand customers by the progress they’re seeking to make in their lives. Bravo! —Muhtar Kent, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company

In an age of big data and hyper segmentation, Christensen’s thinking is refreshing and clarifying. This book will relieve you of tired marketing conversations and invite you into worlds of new and ultimately, defining possibilities. Competing Against Luck is a must read for anyone working on developing or sustaining a distinctive brand. —Maureen Chiquet, former CEO of Chanel and author of forthcoming Beyond the Label

The Theory of Jobs to Be Done has the essential trait of any good management theory: Once explained, it seems glaringly obvious. —Philip Delves Broughton, Wall Street Journal

[Competing Against Luck] will likely become part of the thoughtful founder’s strategy arsenal. True to its unpretentious name, jobs theory is disarmingly simple… “What job is our customer trying to accomplish?” stands as one of those great business questions that companies deploy to stimulate creative juices at the start of meetings. But Competing Against Luck doesn’t just introduce a tool, it also lays out a program. —Inc. Magazine

Clayton Christensen’s books on innovation are mandatory reading at Netflix. —Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix

Competing Against Luck is an excellent primer on the both the theory, and on the applications of this theory to many areas of business. A fun and quick read - and a set of ideas that will be useful when you negotiate with vendors or plan your next program. Inside Higher Education

As a long-time fan of Clay Christensen, I was eager to read Competing Against Luck -- and it didn’t disappoint. This book has the potential to change the way you view innovation. Engaging and well-written, Christensen and his co-authors caused me to stop and really think about how Khan Academy is growing. I highly recommend it. —Sal Khan, Founder & CEO, Khan Academy

This game-changing book is filled with compelling real world examples, including from inside Intuit. Jobs Theory has had --and will continue to have ---a profound influence on Intuit’s approach to innovation. It just might change yours, too. —Scott Cook, Co-founder & Chairman of Intuit