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How To Determine If a Job Is Important and Underserved

In our last article, we discussed how to formulate job-statements based on your current product and technology capabilities by asking the fundamental question: “why do customers hire our current products?”

Up to this point, most of our “jobs” investigation is based on high level inputs from both internal and external experts and end users. The initial ideas and concepts we generate are transformed into preliminary job-statements by asking a series of questions that uncover the essence of the types of jobs customers are potentially trying to get done using our untested solutions.

In the last article, we learned that before we can conduct formal research, we need to formulate a preliminary job-statement or statements (there may be more than one, but there shouldn’t be more than 3 to 4) to investigate. Without a clear job-statement under investigation, our research will be too random and not give us clear readings if the job(s) we are investigating is important and underserved.

Qualitative and Quantitative research techniques are used to uncover desired outcomes

The first phase of the formal research is primarily qualitative in nature. We want to probe our research subjects to tell us their story about what jobs they are trying to get done, why they are doing the jobs in the first place, and their overall satisfaction in executing the job and the results they are getting.

We need to have structure in our research to keep the conversation focused on the specific job-statement under investigation, while at the same time, allow enough flexibility to probe deeper into the why and what customers are trying to get done, and the things that are working and not working for them. We want our subjects to tell us their story as they see it, not as we want them to see it.

Adding structure to our research

We can create structure by formulating specific quantitative questions based on a modified Likert scale with a numerical range of 1-10 with descriptive anchors at each end.  The quantitative questions help facilitate the conversation into understanding the jobs customers are trying to get done and their level of satisfaction in getting the job done.

For example, suppose we wanted to investigate if construction workers really need a solution to make sure they bring the right tools to a job site, and help prevent them from losing tools on the site, so they can get their project jobs done better.  (See Constructing a “job statement” to focus innovation).

The quantitative questions also act as anchor text to help us search and analysis the data set after all the interviews are collected.   This is especially helpful if we are searching twenty or more transcripts of the interviews. Without the anchor text, it is very difficult and time consuming to search an otherwise unstructured data set.

A good anchor question we could use:

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 = not satisfied, 5 = somewhat, and 10 = totally satisfied; where would you rank your satisfaction of having the right tools on the construction site to get your work done?

Not satisfied  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  Totally satisfied

The key to the initial phase of J2BD research is that the real value of the numerical rating lies not in the number itself but in the explanation of why the number was chosen. When the rating scale is combined with a follow-up question asking “What would it take to make it a 10?” Or why did you give it a ranking of 6?

The follow on discussions yields in-depth information about the specific components of the score, what elements the respondent used to judge the item in the question, and the missing “wow’s,” and the existing “pains” and impediments.

Manage your interview time

For a 60 minute interview, you should have 10 to 15 anchor questions to facilitate the conversations. It’s not unusual to dive deeply into one or two questions. Valuable information comes from probing deeper into a subject’s story allowing him or her to share their experiences of getting jobs done.  Just manage your time as best you can and make sure you get to the core questions that focus around the job importance and satisfaction level.

Don’t sweat it if you can’t get all your questions answered. Trust me, you will get a lot of important and relevant information in a 60 minute interview if you keep to your research structure.  And do be respectful of your subject’s time – if you say the interview will be 60 minutes, then make sure it’s no more than 60 minutes.

High and low score provide trend information

Additional analysis of the combined scores of all respondents help to create an understanding of the range of answers, high and low scores, and trends. You will need to use your judgment in analyzing the data as to defining what a high score is and a low score is, especially for small data sets.

For example, in looking how scores cluster, you might  decide scores between 8 – 10 can be counted as “high” ratings.  And scores of 6 and below are considered “low” ratings.

Again, the real value of the numbers is to act as focal points for analyzing the verbatim transcripts of the interviews. Opinions (and quotes) associated with high scores were compared to those associated with low scores. Definite themes can be identified and used to gain valuable insights.

Quantifying Job and Outcome Importance and Satisfaction levels

In the next research phase, you will be doing quantitative research that focuses on ranking the importance and satisfaction level of the desired outcomes you discovered in phase 1. In our next article we will look at how to derive outcome statements from our initial research.

Remember to listen and ask questions that get job executors to tell their true stories – not what they think you want to hear, and definitively not what you want to hear!


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