No matter what business you think you’re in, you’re in the tool business. Your customers are not buying a set of features. They’re buying the tools needed to complete one or more tasks that produce the desired outcome. Customers buy products and services to get a job done.[i]
The real key to innovation success is to be outcome focused. Be clear on who the customer is, what job they’re trying to get done and what their implicit or explicit metrics for job success are. Then create or adapt your tools to meet those expectations.
Customers measure the effectiveness of your offerings to meet their desired outcome across multiple facets of three dimensions: functional, emotional and societal, with the weight of each varying by the job.
The functional dimension of the job-to-be-done (JTBD) includes all the practical and objective customer requirements, such as value and performance.
For example, products and services are often bloated by features that are useless to the job customers are buying your tools for. The result your product or service is capable of producing and the result your customer wants to produce with your product or service are two different things. No matter how well designed those features are, from a functional viewpoint, those excess features are valueless to your customer.
The emotional dimension of the JTBD is how the customer wants to feel or avoid feeling while completing the job. It is personal and subjective.
For example, one customer will choose the traditional spring mouse trap because she wants those pesky rodents permanently eliminated. Another customer will choose an electronic mouse trap because it delivers a more humane kill. Yet another customer will choose a catch & release mouse trap model because she wants the mouse gone but doesn’t want to be an agent of death. Offerings that meet the customer’s emotional criteria are valued more highly than those that don’t.
How a person wants to be perceived by others while completing a JTBD is the societal dimension. It is also personal and subjective.
For example, a $20,000 Chevy Cruise will get the driver where she needs to go. One customer believes she will be perceived as frugal while driving the Cruise. That’s the perception she wants others to have of her—a desirable outcome. Another believes she will be perceived as less financially well off, which is not the perception she wants others to have—an undesirable outcome.
The first driver will place a high value on the Cruise along the societal dimension. The second driver will not.
Customers typically choose whichever product or service gives them more of their desired outcomes, across all facets and dimensions, and less of their undesired outcomes.
The better you understand your customers’ expectations across all facets and dimensions, and how satisfied (or unsatisfied) customers are with your and competitive offerings, the better you can create or adapt your offerings to be more desirable than the next best alternative. As the customer sees it, from their perspective.
[i] The concept of job-to-be-done was first articulated by C. Christensen, S. D. Anthony, G. Berstell, and D. Nitterhouse in “Finding the Right Job for Your Product,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2007 2–11
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