“Clayton Christensen’s books on innovation are mandatory reading at Netflix.”

– Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO, Netflix

For many companies, innovation is still hit or miss. They spend millions compiling the data to figure out what their customers want, but they often achieve only modest incremental innovations while completely missing the mark on the breakthrough innovations critical to long-term sustainable growth.

In Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, Innosight’s cofounder Clay Christensen and senior partner David Duncan and their coauthors offer a game-changing look at how companies can develop and market products and services that customers actually want and need. The answer, they say, can be found in the “jobs to be done” theory of innovation. This approach provides a powerful way to understand the causal mechanism of customer behavior, and that’s the most fundamental driver of innovation success.

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Jobs to be done is based on this insight: When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to make progress and get a job done. If it does the job well, we hire that same product again. If the product does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look around for something else.  When companies truly understand what job their customer is hiring their product or service to do, they can see far beyond existing solutions and customers. Look at companies like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb, who don’t just jump on fleeting trends or roll out another new flavor to boost sales. “They were conceived, developed, and launched into the market with a clear understanding of how these products would help consumers make the progress they were struggling to achieve.”

The book explores how innovators can use jobs to be done to:

  • Transform how you define what business you are in and who your competitors are
  • Provide clarity into why customers hire, and why they fire, products
  • Open up new avenues for growth by identifying opportunities to create powerful new solutions for your customers

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  • Transform your market research efforts by helping you to understand not only current customers but also nonconsumers 
  • Build a culture that’s unified around a customer-centric mission

About the Authors

Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor at Harvard Business School, the author of eleven 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. He has twice been named the world's most influential business thinker in a biennial ranking conducted by Thinkers50.

David S. Duncan

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. Over the past decade, his work helping to develop and implement jobs theory has made him one of its most authoritative practitioners.

Karen Dillon

Karen Dillon is the former editor of Harvard Business Review and co-author of Christensen’s New York Times best-seller How Will You Measure Your Life?

Taddy Hall

Taddy Hall is a Principal with The Cambridge Group and Leader of Nielsen’s Breakthrough Innovation Project.


BUZZ FOR "Competing Against Luck"
  • 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
    Cofounder & Chairman, Intuit
  • When companies develop and promote products, Christensen and his co-authors argue, they need to figure out what drives the choices of customers. As they see it, consumers ‘hire’ products to do a certain job. For the book, they conducted thousands of interviews with customers, executives and innovators. The research made them optimistic about industries that some people think are in decline."

    Wall Street Journal