How will you measure your life? Clayton Christensen, The McKinsey Prize & Business of Software

One of the people we really wanted to get to speak at Business of Software is Professor Clayton Christensen, author of, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail‘. The Innovator’s Dilemma considers how successful companies with established products can stay ahead of those with newer, better, cheaper products. Needless to say this is a tough proposition. It is a seminal work that starts out by comparing the hard disk industry to fruit flies…

“When I began my search for an answer to the puzzle of why the best firms can fail, a friend offered some sage advice. “Those who study genetics avoid studying humans,” he noted. “Because new generations come along only every thirty years or so, it takes a long time to understand the cause and effect of any changes. Instead, they study fruit flies, because they are conceived, born, mature, and die all within a single day. If you want to understand why something happens in business, study the disk drive industry. Those companies are the closest things to fruit flies that the business world will ever see.” The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

We are delighted that Professor Christensen will open this year’s Business of Software Conference, (24th-26th October, Boston).

Here, Professor Christensen talks about disruption in the steel industry.

We are delighted that Professor Christensen will open this year’s Business of Software Conference, (24th-26th October, Boston).

When I started talking to Professor Christensen’s office about speaking, I came across an article he wrote last year that had as much resonance for me as the Innovator’s Dilemma. It turns out that a lot of other people felt the same about How will you measure your life? (10 minute read, lifetime impact). The article, a summary of Professor Christensen’s graduation address to 2010 HBS students, has become one of the most downloaded articles in the history of the Harvard Business Review. This month it won the Harvard Business Review McKinsey Prize making the author an unprecedented four times winner of the award.

How will you measure your life is less about business, more about, well, life…

“When people who have a high need for achievement—and that includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”

We are very proud that Professor Christensen will be speaking at Business of Software in 2011. Not only has he written some of the most important business writing ever, he understands that life is not a business, it is about people. We think those sentiments resonate with the attendees at Business of Software.

“I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”

We hope to see you there – and don’t forget the delegate rate will rise by $100 from midnight 4th May so act now – you will almost save yourself the price of a Kindle. Register here.

BLN Money in Mobile, June 14th – How companies make money in mobile.

BLN Growth Forum, July 5th – For grown-ups running growth businesses.


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