Christensen, C. M., Hall, T., Dillon, K., & Duncan, D. S. (2016, 09). Know your customers' "jobs to be done". Harvard Business Review,
While innovation has always been a top priority, it has also been a top frustration for global executives. In a McKinsey poll, 84% of executives said innovation was a key to their growth, but 94% said they were dissatisfied by the organization’s innovation performance. The focus on correlation and knowing more about the customers is what’s taking firms in the wrong direction, they need to focus on what the customer is trying to accomplish.
The Business of Moving Lives
Bob Moesta was in charge of condominiums for a Detroit area building company. The units got a lot of visitors, but few people ended up moving in. After countless focus groups and adding details to the condos, nothing changed. Moesta took an unusual approach by asking people to draw a timeline of they got here. All the conversations led back to the dining room table and long story short, he realized he was in the business of moving lives. He then offered moving services, two years’ worth of storage and a sorting room within the development and eventually sales had grown by 25%.
Getting a Handle on the Job to Be Done
Successful innovations help consumers solve problems while addressing what may be holding them back.
Some principles about jobs to keep in mind;
“Job” is another term for what an individual really seeks to accomplish in a given time.
The circumstances are more important than customer characteristics, product attributes, new technologies, or trends
Good innovations should solve problems that in the past only had basic solutions or even no solution at all.
Jobs are never just about the function- jobs have powerful social and emotional dimensions packed inside.
Designing Offerings Around Jobs
Having a strong understanding of a job will allow you to innovate without guessing what trade-offs your customers are willing to make, it’s a kind of job spec.
Creating customer experiences
The first steps in creating products that customers want starts with identifying and understanding the job that needs to be done. It’s also very important to create the right set of experiences into a company’s processes. When a company does this, it’s hard for the competition to catch up. An example of this is American Girl Dolls. To date they’ve sold over 29 million dolls and they have more than $500 million in sales annually but whats so special about them? They sell an experience rather than just a doll as each doll as its own unique story with different history and backgrounds. The dolls being sold in only American Girl stores or online makes the experience more unique than if you could buy them at any traditional toy store.
The final piece of the puzzle is processes, or how the company integrates across functions to support the job to be done. Processes are often hard to see but are very crucial. They tell people inside the company “what matters to us most.” This gives a clear guidance to everyone on the team and although its simple, it’s a very powerful way to make sure a company doesn’t unintentionally abandon the insights and values that brought success in the first place.
With a large amount of Universities, it’s hard to attract students and distinguish itself. They had an online program that wasn’t very centered, yet it still attracted a large number of students. SNHU needed to change because the existing policies, structures and processes weren’t set up to support the actual job that online students needed done. The following are the questions the team worked with to help redesign SNHU’s processes:
What experiences will help customers make the progress they looking for?
For this case, financial aid, having the ability of a 24-hour email support for students who are parents and are working late.
What obstacles must be removed?
Decisions about financial aid packages and how many previous college courses would count toward an SNHU degree was solved within days instead of weeks or months.
Define the social, emotional and functional dimensions of the job?
Having a personal advisor for the online students helps keep them focused in on continuing their education. Their high level of assistance is the key reason their online program has very high NPS scores and high graduation rates compared to other online colleges.
Innovation can be far more predictable and profitable if you start by identifying jobs that customers are struggling to get done.
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