Idea management

A good video on Jobs to Be Done

We all want to be more customer focused and closer to the customer.  All that sounds great, but it assumes that we have some idea of who the customer is and what they want.

So maybe we should list our customers by customer segment.  Let’s see – I am James and I am a customer of your product.  I live in Sydney and I am Australian.  But unlike most Australians I am a bit short and not very good at sport.

Now you know me really well you can flog your product to me.  You can even build a persona around me (see this link).  If you are more sophisticated you might even start doing empathy maps and value proposition canvases.

But the point is not to build a detailed picture of me.  Knowing I am tall or short is nice and knowing I am Australian might tell you about what I want in a product … but just as likely it won’t tell you how to make a product relevant to me.

Rather – we want to know what things I want to do (ie my “jobs to be done”). So let’s see what that means.

I am James and I have to buy things at the supermarket.  So a clear requirement is “I want to buy food so I can eat”.  Since I am Australian and male you might guess that I like Steak, potatoes and some token vegetables.

But let’s look at to personas that both represent me:

Persona 1 – Frazzle Dad

  • At home in Sydney I am a father.
  • I used to be cool and would shop sporadically for food – usually at the restaurant but sometimes at the supermarket. When I shopped at the supermarket I wanted fast, easy to cook things that can be frozen and microwaved – or thrown onto my Aussie BBQ to cook.  I was “Easy going Jimbo”.
  • But now you know I am a father you know I actually want something different – I want healthy food that can feed mum, dad and child.  I want healthy non-sugar and non-artificial.  I have no idea how to find this food so I want simple clear instructions of what is in the food I buy – something I never needed before.  I still like to imagine I am the young, cool, Jimbo – but really I am not.  I am responsible James – frazzled when shopping when I need to buy the healthy milk and the right fish.

Persona 2 – Travelling minstrel

  • Besides being a father I also have a job.  I am a trainer
  • As a trainer I travel a lot and when I am travelling I am sick of restaurants
  • Now I want to buy rations to take back to my hotel/apartment to feed myself
  • But I have nothing to start with – I can’t assume there is salt or garlic or even butter back at my apartment (which I can at home).  I don’t need to feed multiple people (which I do at home) and I am happy to have the same bland things 3 times in a row (which my daughter would be very annoyed at).

So I am two personas.  And I used to be a third.  It can be very confusing and time consuming.

And worst of all – it does not really matter.  Being tall or short – I still eat.  But what I eat is not based on who I am – it is based on what I want to do.

  • Sometimes I want to capture my rapidly fading youth – I want to prove to myself I can buy anything any time.  This is my “job to be done”.  I want less stress and more fun.
  • Sometimes I want to “crash at the hotel and read a book with minimal effort”.  Your supermarket cannot help me to buy a book (I have an ereader) and you are not a hotel.  But I want to use your store to get the food I need to relax at my hotel.  Design thinkers therefore talk about “shopping is a means to an end”.  It is not the job to be done, but something they you “hire” or use as part of the journey to relax at a hotel.
  • Sometimes I want to get home quickly to cook for my daughter before she gets home with mum (mom to Americans).  In this case I want healthy stuff that is easy to cook – but I don’t really.  What I want is to cook for my daughter.   Shopping is just something that helps me achieve that “job”.  Again – I am not shopping because it is awesome to shop for potatoes; I am shopping because I want to get home and cook a simple, healthy meal with no complaints from my adorable but potentially loud and annoying child.

This all makes sense to me.  The persona does not help me understand what features are important in a product – it helps me identify the “jobs” people want to achieve.  These jobs can be emotional things (feel free) or tasks (cook for child).  The jobs then help me to understand which features are relevant or useful to a customer who does not actually care about my product as much as they care about their own life.  In other words – DO NOT design your customer around your product, instead DESIGN your product around the things your product can help a customer achieve.

But people seem to struggle to grasp this concept.  So I was glad to find a couple of good videos that explain the concept.

Here is a cool, animated and simple explanation:

And here is another video – this time its the fully detailed explanation based on milkshakes and how they enhance people’s lives:


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