Competing Against Luck:
The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice


October 4, 2016

By: Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan

How do companies 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 hit and miss? Competing Against Luck offers powerful new insights that will help innovators create predictably successful innovations.

After years of research, it has become clear that our long held maxim–that understanding the customer is the crux of innovation–is wrong. Customers don’t buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. Understanding customers does not drive innovation success, then. 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, Airbnb, and Chobani yogurt, to name just a few. But this book is not about celebrating these successes–it’s about predicting new ones.

By understanding what causes customers to “hire” a product or service, any business can improve its 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 and miss efforts.

Clayton Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and is the architect of Disruptive Innovation. Clay was named the World’s Most Influential Business Management Thinker in 2011 and 2013.

  • Paul Davies

    Thank you! I have just finished listening to “Competing Against Luck” on audio book. Twice.

    I have an enterprise sales background. I also coach startups (in selling) on the side.

    I used Jobs Theory to help an entrepreneur understand why his current customers “hire” his product. Once confirmed with customers, he will use a version of the jobs statement in conversation with prospective customers to improve greater traction in the sales phase.

    A description of “Jobs to be Done” is a great selling tool as it goes straight to the heart of why a customer decides to use our product or services.

    I believe Jobs Theory is naturally more in tune with the customer thinking and will help clearly define the Value Proposition (or Benefits), instead of working back from the product features.