Product Management – Jobs to be done

You can do a lot by observing. you can unearth value by just observing people.  Seeing how they do things or work around things etc. I am reminded of an article written in Sloan Management review by Clay Christensen and other authors of a simple concept called Jobs to be done. Recently I was reading a book where that same statement was referred to again ( the book is called innovator’s toolkit by David Silverstein, Philip Samuel, and Neil DeCarlo) and the statement was “Most companies segment their markets by customer demographics or product characteristics and differentiate their offerings by adding features and functions. But the customer has a different view of the marketplace. The person simply has a job to be done and is seeking to “hire the best product or service do it” or concoct something with an existing solution to address the problem.
                                                               Jobs to be done is a simple concept,  yet sometimes we end up complicating things beyond all the possible means. In some cases when you are building products and you are internally focused or being driven to neutralize a competitors advantage, there is a tendency to “hunker down” and look internally  and assume what the customer perceives to be valuable. Because customers might be buying a competitors products in droves but it does not mean that you start looking inwards and come up with things that do not make sense.  At such times you should be encouraged to look more externally and identify other elements that are frustrating users. Think about it. How did innovations like micro-finance or  mobile commerce come to be? There was a job that was being addressed well by the big players and little players saw a niche filled the gap. The “Job” in the case of micro-finance was to provide financial services to communities with little income. Now I am not encouraging people to go create another NINJA loan market (we already have evidence that does not work), but what micro-finance did was that it encouraged poor villages in South Asia become entrepreneurs and especially enable women in that part of the world to come out of poverty.  I am amazed how such a complex idea so succinctly  stated still continues to make such a difference in peoples lives.

Jobs to be done Old Solution New Solution
Provide
financial services to communities with little income
Get people to put assets as collateral and charge high interest Provide the ability for the entire community  of villagers to get smaller amounts of money that they can start a business  or have the ability to payback

               The case I am trying to make is that innovating is not just the realm of the hip and  the cool but it is also about practical utility. Anything that is practical and designed in a empathetic way has a higher chance of success than something that is hip and cool and introduced way to early in the market space. I think in the current day and age where technology is improving by leaps and bounds we are losing sight of simple things that can drive innovation.

 I would encourage you to try it out yourself and let us have conversation. I can tell you based on my personal experience it has helped me to convey some of the complicated things in life in simple terms.
As always appreciate your feedback via Linkedin, Twitter, or you post your comments in the comments  section of this blog.

           

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