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The steps in ranking and valuing Jobs-to-be-Done—for product managers
We have talked a few times about Jobs-to-be-Done in past episodes. It is a customer discovery tool for uncovering the unmet needs of customers—the tasks they want to complete or objectives they want to achieve. When using this approach, we may find the customer has multiple Jobs-to-be-Done and each job has a variety of attributes. We then need to know what is most important to tackle first. Our guest has an approach for ranking and valuing jobs to be done.
His name is Doug Stone. He is an expert at leading human-centric innovation and product design projects. His work has informed over $1 billion in revenue growth for Fortune 100 companies. He has a Masters of Product Design and Development from Northwestern University and teaches Innovation Strategy internationally.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[6:03] Can you give an example illustrating why ranking and valuing Jobs-to-be-Done is important?
We did a project for a large quick-service restaurant about breakfast and came back with 20-25 unmet needs a quick-service breakfast can satisfy. After testing them and understanding which brands a consumer would want to satisfy each job, we found the second most important job to be done in quick-service breakfast was owned by a competitor, and it had to do with feeling strong, competent, and capable. My client’s brand attributes were more around wholesomeness, fun, and casualness. It was important to have those additional criteria around the Jobs-to-be-Done. We recommended the first five most important Jobs-to-be-Done, and as a grouping they aligned with their brand accurately. They developed communications and promotional ideas and reversed a three-year decline in their books. The grouping of Jobs-to-be-Done from the marketplace is really influenced by the brand the company has and what’s most important to consumers.
As another example, we were working with health insurance companies. We collected Jobs-to-be-Done that people wanted in healthcare. That collection process grabbed jobs that health insurance companies are responsible for and jobs healthcare providers are responsible for. We had to pull those jobs apart. We asked consumers, “Which brand do you want to solve this?” One of our health insurance clients had a very different brand characteristic from most health insurance companies. We asked, “Do you want a health insurance company to solve this?” For certain jobs, consumers said no. Then we asked, “Do you want this specific health insurance brand to solve it?” and consumers said yes. That gave us a good understanding of what to bring into ideation and how to show a deep partnership between the health insurance company and the healthcare provider that was very believable for the client.
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[10:32] Take us through your Jobs-to-be-Done ranking and valuing approach.
When you do qualitative interviews to get the Jobs-to-be-Done, use a cognitive framework to organize the discussion guide. For example, a financial services company told us their consumers wanted control. Control is too high level of an unmet need for a Job-to-be-Done. When you look at control theory from a cognitive perspective, it has three components: a point a reference, sensitivity to that point of reference, and real and imagined levers that people pull to get closer to or further from that point of reference. We used that cognitive model in the discussion guide.
Once you have a transcript, pull out pieces of the transcript that have to do with people’s actions, the reasons they’re doing things, and the tensions they feel.
Go through a diverge-converge process. We’ve been able to use artificial intelligence to do much of this, but currently we do this as a workshop with clients. Arrange the actions, reasons, and tensions into “because…but” statements. For example, “I eat fast food because it’s convenient, but I worry it’s bad for my health,” or “I eat fast food because it’s affordable, but I worry about its impact on the food chain.” Those are very different “because…but” statements with different reasons and tensions.
Once you’ve collected those statements, categorize them into emotionally-based categories and refine them down to ones your business can actually do something about.
Next create a linguistic prototype, which is very formatted, and I have a checker that allows you to make sure you have formatted it properly.
Find the jobs that are most important that your company can do the most to solve.
Then quantitatively test them. We use a Likert scale. Ask whether consumers agree with the full statement and whether they agree with the action, reason, and tension separately. Then flip the tension into a positive statement: “Do you want this benefit delivered by this brand or industry?” Finally, ask, “Is this tension becoming more or less important to you?”
Use a weighted scale and add up the responses into a power score. Now you can easily identify which jobs are most important.
Aggregate jobs together. It’s helpful to test how different segments rank jobs. You’ll need to meet a couple of Jobs-to-be-Done that are important to everyone and a couple of jobs that are important to the segments really key to your growth. This allows you to create very good market fit.
When you test your concepts, you should refer back to these jobs and ask, “Does the way we solved it satisfy that tension, that Job-to-be-Done for your customer?”
[18:19] Whom do you interview?
Often we interview users and influencers. We did a project for an academic testing company who believed the student was their customer. When we did our preliminary interview, we realized the parent had a huge influence on the student and their education, so we recommended they segment both the parents and students. We found out there was a student-parent type combination that was ideal for the business. We interviewed students and parents and found the company could influence certain parent types and students types into being a better type for the company. It’s important to talk to a group of consumers that are valuable to the growth of your company, not just talk to everyone. However, do test with everybody.
When you talk to key users and test the Jobs-to-be-Done across a broad consumer base, you can see the rankings shift. For example, we did a project with a veterinary pet insurance company. This was in the heyday of the media’s talking about “fur babies.” Consumers are getting married later, having children later, and treating animals like people. The veterinary pet insurance company was convinced the market for their product was growing exponentially and they needed to have benefits that were much more similar to human health insurance, because that’s what they would hear from adamant users.
When we talked to those users, we heard they would do anything for their “fur babies.” When we tested those Jobs-to-be-Done across the general population, there was no value in them. We went back to the drawing board and interviewed other people. We found their Jobs-to-be-Done were around not being emotionally drawn into spending their life savings on a procedure for an animal that will only live 12 years anyway.
The organization’s business model changed to developing a more information-based vet benchmarking, cost-based product they sold to companies as a worker benefit.
[25:07] How are you using AI to enable a faster process?
At a workshop, we have 400-500 cards each with two or three sentences a consumer actually said. Participants read through them all then sit down and yell out categories they’ve seen. We get about 10 categories. Then we get up, take the cards off the wall, and bucket them into categories. This is a great empathy exercise for clients, but it’s not worth the time.
AI is able to extract the statements and categorize them. We’ve used transformation engines to pull out the actions, reasons, and tensions. Then, humans make the “because…but” statements, since we’re not quite there yet with AI.
Action Guide: Put the information Doug shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Visit DriveStrategy.com
- Connect with Doug on LinkedIn
- Check out Bob Moesta’s The Jobs-to-be-Done Handbook
“You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You need to create an environment of curiosity and a way in which to bring out their best.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Thank you for taking the journey to product mastery and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.