Competing Against Luck

Bruno Aziza
2 min readApr 11, 2020


I’ve been a Clayton Christensen’s fan for decades. When he died earlier this year, I felt that the world had lost one of its most influential business thinkers.

Luckily, we can still read and learn from his many books. This weekend, I came across a podcast Marc Andreessen and Steven Levy produced with Professor Christensen. They interviewed him on the concepts he introduced in his book “Competing against Luck”.

The podcast is very well done and covers some of the key concepts introduced in the book. I’m embedding it below and you can also order Christensen’s book here.

If you haven’t read the book yet, here are some of my key take-aways.

  1. “Hope is NOT a strategy”. Some of the best leaders I’ve worked with work with this concept as a overriding principle. Everything can be decoded, understood. And solutions to problems can be orchestrated as systems. Everything happens for a reason and, to succeed, you have to learn to decode the source of events.
  2. Customers don’t buy products. They buy a solution to their problem. This is something Christensen calls ‘Jobs Theory’. In other words, customers ‘hire’ your product because they need it to ‘perform a job’.
  3. Start from the customer’s problem and work backwards. To succeed you need to understand the ‘job’ buyers want to assign to your product or solution. In the enterprise, we often call that a ‘use case’.
  4. Understand the “why”. Dig into the emotional, social and logical reasons for the use case. Why do they need this ‘job’ to be done, what does it mean to them and the people they care about?
  5. Document the “how”. Understand the journey that the customer takes for this job. How did they behave before or without your solution?
  6. How do you unlock pain? Once they have your solution, how does their journey change? How do you make their life better? What hurdles and moments of frustration have you removed?
  7. Quantify your value. When reviewing your solution, how do you assess its value to your buyer? Does it make their life 10 times easier? Did they have to create new habits? Remember that people are creatures of habits, so the easier your product and service simplifies their life, without disrupting their habits, the better!