Discussion on Clayton Christensen article at Alumni Meet of SIMSR !


(Photo: Alumni Co-ordinator and moderator Ms Radha Iyer elaborating on her point, while Alumni Rahul Desai (L) and Raman Ramamurthy pay attention to her during the ‘lively’ discussion in progress)

The Alumni Committee of the K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research (ALCOM) wrote .. inviting me to be on the panel for the discussion on an article from Harvard Business Review by Clayton Christensen, “How will you measure your life” on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at the Institute premises.

Clayton Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches one of the most popular elective classes for second year students, ‘Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise.’ He is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth and his ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world.

Clayton Christensen through his article, ‘How will you measure your life’ – proposes .. one needs to plan, decide, set a career goal and understand how he or she will measure his or her life, right while being a MBA student at the end of final year of the post graduate program. Because, he feels there is no time to think on this later .. since life becomes more demanding : You take on a mortgage loan to pay off installments ; you are working 70 hours a week ; you have a spouse and children. So, through his article, Clayton asks his students to find cogent answers to three questions : First, how can I be sure that I will be happy in my career ? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness ? Third, how can I be sure I will stay out of jail ?

No doubt, it seems quite simple in principle – you already have the right questions in front of you, so it should not be difficult getting the right answers either. But, is it so simple as it looks like ? That is the reason, as few ‘invited’ senior alumni, we were on the panel to discuss the same for the benefit of final year students intending to pass out during the academic year 2013-14. Let me ask you .. please tell me .. How do we measure our life ? Is money alone the powerful motivator in our lives to find happiness in our career ? Does self-awareness play a role in understanding what we need and what we do not ? Are we really ‘self aware’ when we are at a young age of less than 24 years aspiring to be a MBA ? Is the concept .. ‘there is no free lunch !’ .. well-understood by us while we are in the final year of the MBA program. Do we know then .. Whether Am I going to be leading a happy married life and raise my son or my daughter well enough so as to make me happy ? Whether Am I going to lead a life of integrity (‘staying out of jail’) so that I can set an example for others to follow ? Whether Am I going to lead a healthy and stress-free life ?

Forget the answers, even these questions are unknown to us, while we are in the final year of the program. I have realized that life is an uncharted territory which reveals its story only from moment to moment. In fact, life can be understood only in hindsight, though we all try and lead a life with sufficient foresight. Trust me when I say, no one is in complete awareness as to how his or her life will unfold in future when in the final year? And, happiness is only a state of mind! How many of us understand this ‘simple’ abiding truth? While no one can claim to be happy all the time, no one is unhappy all the time either. Truly, only ‘positive thinking’ cajoles one to get ahead in life. Failure sets boundaries in some lives while the setback only motivates others to strive much harder. Life is not a simple game of jig-saw puzzle to be solved, wherein you have all the ‘missing parts’ like we do in the game. But then, it is very simple too, in case of many lives. Few as I know need not plan their lives as everything does fall in place at the right moment while that is not the case for many others.

Clayton Christensen, in my opinion, is making an attempt to motivate the young MBA aspirants to think ahead of time and develop foresight, reasoning power as well as cognitive ability. But, it varies from individual to individual as to how he or she will measure his or her life.


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