When Clay arrived, Andy said he could only spare 10 minutes and asked Clay to explain what it means for Intel.
Clay instead showed Andy a diagram of his theory and began walking him through it.
Ten minutes in, Andy interrupted impatiently: “Look, I’ve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”
“Andy, I can’t.” Clay persisted and went on to share the story of the disruption of the steel mill industry.
When he finished the story, Andy said: “I got it.” and explained how it applied to Intel.
Clay knew that Andy knew more than he would ever know about his business. Instead of telling him what to think, he taught him how to think.
A great lesson for us to apply as and when we are asked for advice by our students, clients, team members and friends, let us focus on setting a frame i.e. “how to think” [for example – in such situations, it is worth asking ourselves the following 3 questions…] rather than giving specific “what” advice.
As Clay Christensen puts it:
“When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.”