An avenue of ways random musings on life, technology and music

Competing against luck

Data helps with product correlation, but doesn't tell you why the customers make the purchase decisions they do. Need a thesis, look for “help wanted” to generate causality of purchase decision.

“Some product innovation frameworks are masters of description but failures of prediction.”

Disruption theory helps us investigate why some markets or companies fail: simple systems undo complex ones, expensive solutions become cheaper.

Jobs may exist in multiple categories, margarine in the light of wetting the bread and mayo, cooking and teflon.

Jobs are not Needs Descriptions and take hard work to understand what people want to buy. Can’t just take some market research and ideate on jobs.

Progress not product Understanding underlying causation of consumer decision making. Louis Pasteur (germ theory and the causal mechanisms), need to create hypothesises and then test or look at data to prove or disprove. Much like Lean Product Development.

Needs are too general, i.e. “I need to eat”) and guiding principles (i.e. I want to be a good dad) are parts of the Job Framework but not enough in themselves. Jobs solve obstacles that get in the way of progress towards ones goals in life. Jobs insights are stories, why they did something, not what.

  • What progress do they want to make, there are functional, social, or emotional?
  • What are the circumstances, who, what, where, why, and when?
  • What obstacles?
  • What compensating behaviors (imperfect solutions)?
  • What is the quality bar.

Jobs can be things people want to, or don't want to do. For example, Facebook is probably competing against cigarettes, and Netflix is competing against sleep.

Circumstances matter. Be open to find things that the theory can't explain, this strengthens it. Jobs theory doesn't work out if there is no struggle, or existing solutions are good enough. This is likely why “kill email” startups usually fail. Efficiency and cost are not jobs in themselves, for example High Frequency Trading is not a solution to a job. Should efficiency and costs can be part of progress?

If we don't understand jobs we end up with one-size-fits all solutions, the “One size fits none” problem. If we don't specialize jobs we all end up building similar things. Non-consumers may hire nothing instead of something.

Sometimes compensating behaviors with a job are lurking beneath the surface, enshrouded within an idea for a new product or service. These ideas bubble in from salespeople, spouses, engineers, customers and competitors. The executives who must select which ideas merit full development typically reject them because their disguise seems uninspiring. Often, however, the solution needs to be peeled away to reveal the unarticulated job that the inventor had seen needing a better solution.

A core reason why marketers in most companies say one thing (that they know markets ought to be segmented by job) and yet do another (they segment by product and customer category) is rooted in the easy availability of the latter sort of data.

How do you find jobs? Barriers to progress or frustrating experiences: innovation opportunity. Identifying unusual workarounds: enabling something new. Look at timeline of use, progress or frustration may happen earlier in the steps to solve, or when the purchase decision is made.

Jobs theory is an integration tool, integrates various theories of user profiles, an almagamation of needs, it break downs complexity, tells the whole story.

”Perspective is worth 80 IQ points”. Don't need to throw away the current data (personalities, markets, etc). Think about creating a "mini-documentary".

Job hunting strategy Seeing jobs in your own life. In the Walkman case, market research didn't work, but CEO wanted it. Kahn academy, other courses weren't fun, other things were stressful

Opportunity in non consumption. Competing with nothing, where is unseen demand, many times existing data doesn't show this. AirBnb for example, 60% of guests wouldn't have traveled at all, largest hotelier without any real estate. The Depends adult diapers marketing push: “Reclaim your life”.

Identifying workaround / compensating behaviors. People creating their own solutions because something is so difficult. ING Direct, took away lots of blockades, job was to get a simple bank account for unserved market. Square did this with credit card payments.

What we don't want to do. Sick child, whole afternoon is shot taking them to the DR. CSV came up with the minute clinic.

Unusual usages of products. Baking soda, laundry detergent, etc. “Clean and Fresh everywhere”. People were using it in so many different ways. Z-Quil, reformulation of NyQuil.

You have to look all around the job before you can solve, not just functional, but social and emotional. "Crinkly paper in the dr office", paper is designed for function, but not emotional. "Design for people". UX is not just a pretty screen - have to get out in the wild to live it. "Pampers diapers in china". Functional is great, it let's baby sleep through the night, key insight was allow Mom and Dad to be intimate, "best 10c I ever spent said dad": this is the emotional / social aspect of the product.

Better to message "this product is not for you", than have a customer hire our product for the wrong reasons, they'll come back and blame you. This is a great insight, that way you don’t try to build features for people that the product doesn’t really fit for.

Take a look at non-consumers vs. just the people using your or similar products. Pay close attention to compensating behaviors or unusual uses of the current products. What consumer hire and fire tells a great story. Consumers can't always articulate what they want. Most people say they want to be good to environment, but what is on your shelfs? Disposable diapers? "Organic" People hire products and make trade offs in those particular circumstances.

Important Questions:
What are the important unfulfilled jobs in your own lives
What jobs do you use them to get done?
Who is not consuming your products today? Where do they fall short? What is stopping them?
What circumstances do they use the products? What does this reveal about the nature?

Big Hire vs Little Hire. Big is the purchase, little is the time and time again usage, i.e. App downloads vs # times it's opened. What has to get fired for my product to get hired? Forces compelling changes in a certain circumstances, if it's just nagging or annoying it might not be enough to cause someone to switch, it has to be an obstacle them from making progress.

Two forces opposing change. Habits of the present. Anxiety of something new. "Devil you know" and "loss aversion" is twice as powerful as any gains promised. In the ING case, not having a real location made people feel unsafe. ING Direct cafe makes it feel like a real bank, even though you can't do anything there. The new has to be great than the sum of inertia of the old and and the anxieties of the new. Functional is easier to fire, emotional / social is harder.

Full picture of progress, competing needs, what they need to fire.

How to map this out?

What are they trying accomplish (struggles). Storyboarding, sketch it out. What is their desire for something new. The more realistic it is, emotional. The first little hire moment. The story must match the vision for what they want to hire. The moments of struggle, tradeoff, customers seek progress but are inhibited. Cluster together stories to see if there are any similarities. Have a beginners mind, complete picture of the struggle. Timeline of all the triggers that led to the decision. The impulse picture that wasn't - purchases never just happen.