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Strategy & Innovation

May, 2012, Volume 10, Number 2

How Will You Measure Your Life?

By Clayton Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillonhow-will-you-measure

Editor's Note: We are pleased to offer an excerpt of one of the year's most anticipated books. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen poses some of life's most pressing questions and offers solutions based partly on innovation frameworks that he's helped put into practice here at Innosight, which he cofounded in 2000. 

IN THE SPRING of 2010, I was asked to speak not just to the students in my own class but to the entire graduating student body of Harvard University. But that's not the only way things were a little different that day. Standing at the podium with little hair as the result of chemotherapy, I explained that I had been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a cancer similar to that which had killed my father. I expressed my gratitude that I could use this time with them to summarize what my students and I had learned from focusing management and innovation theories on ourselves. I spoke about the things in our lives that are most important—not just when you are confronting a life-threatening illness, as I was, but every day, for every one of us. Sharing my thoughts that day with the students about to make their own way in the world was a remarkable experience.

I don't promise this book will offer you any easy answers: working through these questions requires hard work. It has taken me decades. But it has also been one of the most worthwhile endeavors of my life. I hope the theories in this book can help you as you continue on your journey, so that in the end, you can definitively answer for yourself the question "How will you measure your life?"

Please click here to download a PDF of the Prologue from How Will You Measure Your Life?

For more on the book

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After a successful turnaround, we needed to focus on innovation and growth. Not only did the managers get a chance to develop new skills, they generated a set of high-potential ideas, some of which we ended up commercializing.

Joyce Petrella
Head of Executive Education, Aetna

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