In June, unemployment hit 9.5%, the highest rate in 25 years, and a "sobering indication that the longest recession since the 1930s has yet to release its hold", wrote the NY Times. Not that any of us needed this statistic to know that times are tough. Many of us have seen our net worth dwindle, and are tightening our belts to an extent we haven't had to in years, if ever. Yet I find myself optimistic.
If successful women build portable skills, and journalistic chops like those of Katie Couric are ostensibly portable, why has her stint at CBS been such a debacle? And within the context of 'daring to dream, is there a lesson to be learned? As we think through this, there's a framework known as 'jobs to be done' developed by Professor Clayton M. Christensen that I think can be useful. This framework doesn't try to understand the typical viewer's characteristics (age, gender, for example) but rather what jobs a viewer needs to get done or what problem she needs to be solve, and therefore who or what can she hired to do that job. For example, in Caitlin Flanagan's piece, "A Woman's Place -- Katie Couric's Long Day's Journey Into Night", Flanagan writes that the job that women with small children need done on weekday mornings is "adult conversation".
I recently attended the last day of Professor Clayton Christensen's fall semester class at Harvard Business School. In his final minutes with eighty of the world's best and brightest 25-35 year-olds, there was so much that Professor Christensen could have used his bully pulpit to say. Interestingly he chose to focus not on building and sustaining a successful enterprise, as he had done all semester, but rather on building and sustaining a happy life. Paraphrasing Dr. Christensen's remarks, "In just a few months you will graduate from Harvard Business School, and embark on what to many, including yourselves, will be prestigious, lucrative, high profile careers. But if you want to also have happy lives, you need to know the purpose of your life."