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Identify “Strategic Possibilities” Using the Jobs-To-Be-Done Opportunity Matrix

In my last article, “Finding The Next Big Opportunity Using Jobs-To-Be-Done Innovation Theory,” I presented the “jobs-to-be-done  (J2BD) opportunity matrix” as a conceptual model we can use to open the discussion and analysis of  identifying attractive strategic possibilities (where to play and how to win).

In this article, we will dive deeper into J2BD Opportunity Matrix and how it can be used with the  three criteria’s from the “design success triad” to frame and analyze strategic opportunities. The three criteria of the design success triad are

  1. Desirability: important jobs that people want and need to get done

  2. Viability: the opportunity is worth competing for defined by size, profitability, and competitive landscape.

  3. Feasibility: having the necessary skills, and resources within a reasonable time frame to execute and successfully win customers and beat the competition.

Figure 1: Jobs-to-be-done Opportunity Matrix from the customer’s perspective

The strategy map quadrants from the customer’s perspective

In my previous article, I provided a definition of the four quadrants. In creating this article, I discovered those definitions, while still valid, were more company and product centric.

A company/product perspective is useful in that it addresses the “feasibility” criteria for success. But does little to identify the “desirability” criteria for success.

To address desirability, apply the job-to-be-done marketing lens to the matrix to better reflect the market opportunities form the customer’s perspective.   

The power behind the jobs-to-be-done innovation theory is that it is “solution” (product) independent. Products represent point-in-time solutions to getting important jobs done.

Another issue with the product perspective: Marketing Myopia

When we limit our view from the product perspective, we run the risk of missing new opportunities by limiting our playing fields. Theodore Levitt coined this phenomena “Marketing Myopia.”

In his seminal article “Marketing Myopia,”  here’s what Levitt had to say about the railroad industry which at that time was declining rapidly:

“The railroads did not stop growing because the need for passenger and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in trouble today (circa 1960) not because the need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes, even telephones), but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves.”

The takeaway: The jobs-to-be-done marketing lens provides a much larger set of strategic choices than the product orientated view. Had the railroad industry taken that view, perhaps they would not have experienced a major growth slump.

Tweaking the J2BD opportunity quadrants from the customers view

When exploring opportunities that match the “desirability” success criteria, we need to apply the jobs-to-be-done marketing lens and redefine the four opportunity quadrants from that perspective:

  1. Quadrant 1 – lower left  – the core business: Existing job executors  who currently are buying/using solutions to get their current jobs done. The opportunity in this quadrant is to help existing customers get their jobs done better along some meaningful accepted performance vector (i.e. faster, cheaper, more positive desired outcomes,  and/or fewer undesired outcomes).

  2. Quadrant 2 – upper left – adjacent markets/new job executors: Addressing non-consumers of current solution, who aren’t currently able to get their important jobs done because of major barriers like cost, complexity, convenience, and skill. This quadrant is where blue oceans are found, and where disruptive innovations thrive.

  3. Quadrant 4 – lower right – related jobs: Customers have more than one job to get done. Often a job requires several sub-jobs. For example building a house has several sub jobs, and related jobs. (see figure 2 – job trees and chains).

Helping customers get the total job done by addressing more sub-jobs is one strategy in quadrant 4. And addressing other jobs that customers typically do in conjunction with getting their other jobs done. For example, buying furniture for a new house is a related job.

  1. Quadrant 3 – upper right quad – the white-space. This quadrant is riskiest to execute. It most likely will require market pioneering that involves time, resources and some luck. The degree of newness to the market/world will determine the risk level.  

A job-tree for building a house

Figure 2: Job Tree for building a house

In the next series of article, we will look at some examples of how to apply the J2BD opportunity matrix to predict success in each of the four quadrants.

Until then, pick your playing field wisely to be successful!


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