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How to innovate with Jobs to be Done ?

The Universal Growth Imperative

Growth. the one word at the heart of human existence and survival. We Dream it. We Learn for it. We Earn with it. One Metric to measure Human Excellence.

GDP for countries measures economic Growth.

Revenues for companies measures commercial Growth

Career for individuals measures talent Growth.

While this is quantitative growth, there are other measures that verify qualitative Growth. We all want Growth. Growth is fuelled by consumption. Consumption is fuelled by Novelty and Novelty is fuelled by innovation. Innovation is the fuel that propel the engine of growth.

From the time human mind started creating and innovating, the pace of innovation has been accelerating. Never before has this speed so evident than it is today. What took some innovations centuries and few decades to permeate is getting done in a span of decades or years.

Advancements in all types of technology like storage, processing, reusability, architecture, scalability, deployment have together enabled this accelerated rate of innovation. While some barriers to innovation like fixed costs, market access has been dwindling, other barriers to innovation like process, talent and tools have been ever increasing so much so that the chances of succeeding with innovation has significantly gone down.

It is affecting organizations of all sizes and shapes.

Growth in the Innovation Era

Innovation has always been a top priority for corporations because what makes money today mayn’t be able to make money tomorrow.  It is also a top frustration for business leaders because of the unpredictable risk reward equation. While day to day jobs consume and demand attention there is a heightened need not to take eyes off the market evolution.

Precisely why, Innovation throws up a chicken and egg problem for organizations and their leadership teams. When companies are new and nimble, they have the huge challenge mustering resources to invest. When companies are established, they don’t have the risk appetite and bandwidth to experiment. The times we live in just amplifies that dichotomy.

Studies has shown that the estimated time for an S & P Index 500 company is reducing at an alarming rate. Amount of time a large cap stock survives in the bourse has been constantly decreasing indicating a trend of underperformance and disruption. With the rapid advancement in technology ecosystems, it’s increasingly becoming easy for anyone to disrupt.

Today, innovation is table stakes that decides the very survival of business. It’s impossible for businesses to avoid “death trap” without innovation. We all know many stories of innovations gone wrong at Kodak (disrupted by digital media), yahoo (disrupted by google) to name a few.

Foundations of Disruptive Innovation

Innovation and a lack of it is putting firms of all shapes and sizes in the spot. To tide over this companies need to consistently

a) Attract Top Talent

b) Meet and Exceed Customer Expectation

c) Achieve Brand Differentiation in Marketplace

d) Improve Supply Chain Partnership and Efficiency

e) Grow Market Share through Penetration, Extension and Expansion

f) Anticipate the Futuristic product needs

All of these important activities feed on one another. innovation connects all of them to deliver consistent outcomes. While it is recognized as important, corporations, enterprises and SMB’s struggle at innovation or successful commercialization of innovation. This is especially frustrating for those executives trying to foster innovation and an innovative culture.

From a customer perspective, vast majority of innovations fall far short of ambitions and that is giving them jitters to try and adopt new products.

Innovation can be driven through qualitative, quantitative and blended approaches. When it comes to quantitative, never have businesses known more about their customers as they do today thanks to the data collection, data storage and data access technologies. companies now can collect an enormous variety and volume of customer data at unprecedented speed.

Analysis of this data can be easily accomplished with Big Data, Machine Learning and Data Center solutions . Data driven innovation is the norm.

Trapping of Tunnel Vision

It looks as if companies have mastered a scientific process. Yet, innovation performance and impact on business bottomline is still painfully hit-or-miss.Why is data driven innovation not delivering the results ? A research of this area highlights the below reasons.

a) Data is mostly used for tactical purposes

b) Organizations are just skimming the data

c) No systematic processes available to unearth insights

d) Distrust of Data due to Governance Challenges

e) Shortage of Data Science Talents

f) Lack of appropriately integrated digital tools

Notwithstanding these challenges, fundamental problem is how data is used to show correlations. In an article written by clayton christensen et al in hbr they note that most managers have grown comfortable and over reliant on basing decisions only using correlations.While this is easy and comfort zone activity, this just solves the quantitative aspect while completely ignoring the qualitative side that highlights the context in which the data was funneled into the system.

Organizations are failing in their innovation initiatives big time as they get stuck in the wrong direction. In other words, without knowing or including “why ?” a customer bought something (the data we don’t have) in the analysis they are trying to make sense of  when and what he/she purchased (the data we have).

A successful innovation is one that is able to align the demand side with the supply side. If there is no demand then whatever good is done on the supply side is lost and vice versa. There were many innovations that lost its track because of the assumptions and aspirations of demand.

Market research indicated an unmet need yet at a commercial level customers didn’t accept it. Classic case is the indian car “Tata Nano” whose productions were shut down recently. Obituaries have been written. It is not positioned. It is not safe. “World’s Cheapest Car” branding was wrong. aspirational class didn’t wish to be a associated with it. One of the critics even called it “solution in search of a problem”.

Why do Customers make Purchase ?

Take a sample case. you are hungry, it is breakfast, lunch or dinner time, there is no food at home or have other work to complete. What would you do in such a situation ?

Your first choice would be to step out to a nearby restaurant. However, you don’t prefer any of those restaurant or nearest restaurant is far away. What would you do ?  

What we need to understand is that fundamentally a purchase, engagement, interest and every other activity is situational behaviour.

There are several models to understand behavior. A popular and simple model by  B J Foggs Behavior states that every behaviour is based on 3 different levers. abilities, trigger and motivation need to come together at the same time for action to happen. B = M*A*T

Customers made a purchase because they were triggered to do it, they lacked the ability to do it themselves and they were motivated by an urgent need to do it now. In other words, customer is trying to make progress with his current circumstance to accomplish a goal.

Your product/service is a tool that helps them achieve their objective. Essentially, the customer hired the product/service to get a job done in the best possible way. It sounds straightforward while it is quite complicated.

Studies of human psychology highlights the tensions we as people undergo before arriving at a decision. Behaviors are always preceded by decisions. Sometimes decisions are deliberate and in other circumstances intuitive.  Decisions are preceded by Choices. Obvious and the obscure.

While B=MAT tried to explain the constituents of behavior. There was no way to rationalize why different people make different decisions even when they face the exact same situation was puzzling. Why do some order online ? while other take the trouble to walk down to a restaurant nearby ?

Human Psychology and competing Forces

Extending the B J Fogg Model, Bob Moesta a leading consultant sought to explain this struggle we go through as we make decisions. He articulated the forces model wherein he explained how we weigh each of our choices based on favorable and unfavorable factors.

Given that we are endowed with different kinds of experiences, our choice of factors that favor and stifle consumption are quite unique. Hence our decisions while seem odd carry a distinct point of view that favor or stifle consumption.

There are Push (internal and external) and Pull (expectation, outcome) forces accelerating the “why’s” to consume. There are also habits (internal and external) and concerns (self doubt and trust deficit ) that are stifling consumption and explaining “why not” to consume ? The study of the many why’s in our life and the circumstances leading up to the transition is embodied in the “jobs to be done” philosophy.

There are many, many aspects to understand an experience and decision process. In a b2b context, a holistic assessment of Roles, Performance Criterias, Decision Making Structures,  Organizational Maturity, Business Objectives, Outcome Measurement Systems, Tools suite and Tasks portfolio is necessary to grasp the competing priorities.

Foundation of Jobs to be Done

The roles one plays in life are ubiquitous. Roles – such as spouse, parent, charity volunteer, engineering professional, and manager – fulfill important functions within one’s family, community, and work lives. These roles also provide the individual with a sense of who one is and who one is becoming.

Within organizations, everyone becomes, at one time or another, an employee, a subordinate, a manager, a department member, a customer, a supplier, a project team member, and the like. These roles are enacted or played either separately or simultaneously. It seems as though individuals, as well as organizations, can not function without roles wherein structured interdependencies organize and create a network of intertwining tasks and responsibilities.

Why are role important ?

Simple. They define the responsibility we have and the job we are accountable for. Roles help define the RACI (Responsibility, Accountability, Consultation and Informed). It establishes accountability, fosters communication, improves efficiency and helps every stakeholder be in the loop realize the importance of team work to deliver an outcome.

Roles define the boundary of the jobs to be done.

Roles help us identify the skills required to complete the job.

Roles assist us grasp what we can do alone or must do alone.

Roles enable us to think about external help to accomplish a task.

Roles drive us to identify tools that complement our skills.

Roles enables organizations to measure outcomes and optimize performance.

Organizations leverage roles, jobs, tasks and tools to  make progress and grow. Mind you, We have many roles and many consequent jobs to be done in our lives. Some are like passing the time while waiting in line while other about submit a proposal. Some are urgent, some predictable, some routine, some difficult, some gut wrenching. Hope you get the idea.

Factors Impacting Customer Delight

Depending on the job to be completed, we employ tools. As organizations are assessing the roles for performance. Roles are assessing the tools used to speed up jobs and tasks for performance. While we mayn’t be articulating, we are constantly evaluating things on a scale of expectations.

  1. Exceeds Expectations
  2. Above Expectations
  3. Meets Expectations
  4. Below Expectations
  5. Needs Improvement / Change

We don’t buy a product but hire people or things to help us do a job. If it does the job very well and exceeds our expectation, we start to brag about it to others and become the best ambassadors recommending the hire. Take the case of a Tesla Car, Amazon Prime or Netflix or Apple iphone or Linkedin.

If it does the job well and is better than our expectation, we are committed to brag about it to others with caveats and stop short of recommending it as the be best choice. May be a Mercedes or Airbnb or OYO rooms or facebook

If it just meets expectation, we continue to use it. From a psychology point of view, we have started the journey to get rid of this. Given the cost of switching, we have decided to hold on to it for now.

Need for Change

As it deteriorates in performance but completes the job we grudgingly continue (below expectation). Any moment, it becomes impossible to continue using it, we start to explore for alternatives and strongly think about biting the bullet with the switching cost.

Impetus to change is a function of expectation vis a vis reality. As long as the reality is within the acceptable boundary of tolerance we can manage to live with it. Moment it deteriorates, we have an issue in the making. In the consumer world this switch might be easy and mayn’t have consequential impacts on others.

In the corporate setting where many roles collaborate to complete each others job. In a situation where Peers, subordinates, managers, vendors and customers work hand in hand for an outcome, each have a say. Change at one point reverberates across the upstream and downstream of collaborators making the switch a normally prolonged process of ping pong.

Further, experience of each one of the stakeholders is different vis a vis same problem. Consequently, their frame of mind are not aligned when it comes to the intensity of the negative impact. Naturally, this fosters a lot of apprehensions with a change initiative or acquisition of a new tool.

Enterprise Decision Making

Given that different collaboration networks leverage different sets of tools on a day to day basis,  a lot of insecurities need to be overcome. A lot of favorable position need to be built up.Making the near and far stakeholders to realize the urgent need to switch requires an influence driven approach.

Every organization has deploys a team to make a purchase. While the composition of this team can vary depending on the volume and value of purchase, it’s function remains predominantly the same. In Marketing terminology, this team is called Decision Making Unit or DMU.

The DMU has different people with different roles. a buyer is the person responsible for making the transaction, but they’re usually not the ones that actually use the product. user is very important because the product ultimately has to meet their needs. Influencers are experts at the  purchase process offering diverse perspectives on the choice vis a vis the constraints.Influencers can be internal employees, or external people like consultants or lawyers. Decision-makers choose the best one from among the alternatives.

Scholastic Summary of Jobs to be Done

So far we have learned that people’s choices are manifested in Behaviors. Behaviors are a function of Motivation, Abilities and Triggers. Our Behaviors depending on the roles we bear. Each role has objectives as defined by organization. jobs are units that deliver an outcome.

Every Job can be broken down into tasks. Each Job/tasks has outputs to deliver. As a scheduler or an executor of a job, you are working to make progress with organization objectives. We hire people or tools to aid us through the journey.

Initiative to change, drive to explore better options happens only when the existing tool performance has significantly deteriorated. Whole Decision Making Units come together to agree, accept and align on the need for a better aid to complete the job,

New Criterias of measurement are defined to help identify new tools and prepare the organization to transition from a hopeless situation. New state of progress must fulfill the functional, emotional and social needs. It has to comprehensively alleviate the pain and deliver the new outcome.

Jobs to be Done Equations

“when i notice that our receivables are lower compared to our payables (trigger) i get very concerned that we mayn’t have sufficient resources to meet payroll (ability), I will frequently remember myself and instruct my team to check cash and bank balances (behavior) so that i can regulate the flow of capital and muster necessary resources to meet commitments (motivation)” = Situation Statement

“frequently remember myself and instruct my team to check cash and bank balances” b happens when trigger + ability + motivation all align to take action.  Imagine, what will you do if you are not “concerned”. Think, what if you didn’t “notice” lower receivables. Lot of factors contribute to a behavior.

“When i, i get, i will, so that i can” points to a particular individual or it can be   “When we, we get, we will, so that we can” refers to a group who share a similar work profile. In other words, a Role in a particular situation is constrained with no option other than to demonstrate a behavior.    

Role + Situation => Behavior(s)

Behavior can be manual, semi automated or fully automated depending on the frequency of the task and the complexity of the process of getting it done. This is done to  transform the pain of a particular situation into a gainful proposition. This is possible if a behavior can be broken down into Jobs/Tasks with an outcome.

Behavior => Job(s) + Outcomes

A Job statement is something like this “Keep Track of cash reserves (Job) so that salaries to staff can be paid on time (outcome) ”.

Action + Object + Outcome = Job Statement.

A similar job statement with a different outcome is like this “Keep Track of cash reserves (Job) so that anticipated monthly expenses can be met (outcome)”

A variation of job statement with a different outcome is like this “Keep Track of cash reserves (Job) so that an awkward and embarrassing situation doesn’t arise (outcome)”

A role manifests a bouquet of behaviors in any particular situation. Each behavior can be modelled into Job(s). Each Job can be independent or dependent  can deliver functional or emotional or social or all outcomes.

Jobs to be Done Canvas

A Job is typically designed by a decision maker and implemented by an executor or multiple executors. It is in this regard, a job is broken down into tasks to make sense of it.

Innovation happens when task are modeled into tools to deliver universal efficiencies. As a product innovator your goal is to unearth all the roles, the situations they experience, the behaviors they exhibit, the outcomes they expect and the constraints they wish to overcome. Great Product Builders require a deep domain expertise.

Once we have the full list of Job statements then we can work to identify those that are underperforming, Quantify the real expectations and determine the dimensions of deviance. If the deficiency in current crop of tools is the root cause of the diminished experience the customer is having, then there is an opportunity to pursue.

We then dig deeper into the root cause to identify the problems. We then prioritize those problems that fit into the mould of desirability, feasibility and viability. We create roadmaps, user stories, features and build the product.

Tipping Point canvas is a tool to grasp

tipping point canvas, Product Management

Last updated Sep. 1, 2018

MOHAMMED ABUBUCKER ALATHICK

Program Director – Product Management

Digital Product leadership

mcoach

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