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Taking the Guess Work and Risk Out of Innovation

In conducting the jobs-to-be-done research phase, we will collect a tremendous amount of data on the important jobs customers want to get done, and how satisfied they are in achieving their desired outcomes.  If we followed a structured interview plan described in our last article,  we will have a rich set of data we can use to gain immediate insights into the customer’s circumstances and needs.

But there is much more insight that can be mined from the interview data than just from the raw transcripts. In this article, I will walk you through how to take raw transcript data and restructure it into Desired Outcome statements.

A note about interview transcripts

Whenever possible, you should record your interviews and have them transcribed for post interview analysis. And of course, you should always ask permission to record your subjects upfront.

If you explain to them why you are recording the interviews, and how their information will be used, especially in regards to confidentiality concerns, chances are your subjects will say yes. Here’s an example of a script I have used successfully to get permission to record J2BD interviews:

“(Subjects name), all answers to this survey will be held in the strictest of confidence. Respondents identification will not be linked to any information without prior approval by the respondent.”

This establishes confidentiality and the protocol on requiring permission to quote subjects in subsequent research reports.  Then I might say:

“With your permission, of course, I’d like to tape the interview so that I can be sure I record your comments accurately so I don’t lose any important information due to my scribbling. Would that be all right?” 

Most of the time, subjects will agree to being recorded once they understand how the recording and information will be used. Sometimes though subjects don’t want to be recorded.  You can still get excellent information by taking detailed notes. This is why it’s a good idea to have at least one other person on the interviewing team in charge of being the scribe.

Actual transcripts from J2BD discovery interviews:

Let’s take a look of some actual transcripts from a real research project I did for a client. In this particular J2BD research, my client had a promising new technology that could make the job of deploying wireless sensor networks (WSN) easier (the initial job-to-be-done under investigation).

However, at the time of the investigation, and still today, the wide deployment of WSN’s was in the early stages of adoption. There was no clear readymade market needing wireless sensors my client could exploit.

Using the reverse Jobs-to-be-done marketing lens (To Innovate Take Off Your Product Oriented Blinders and See The World Through A Jobs-To-Be-Done Marketing Lens), we explored what important jobs are customers doing today, that could potential be improved by using wireless sensor networks. We came up with several potential jobs, and  hypothesized a very important job that could be improved with wireless sensor networks is:

 “Monitoring industrial equipment remotely to make sure important equipment was operating at its maximum efficiency”

Our research pointed us to an industry based on Condition Based Monitoring (CBM). CBM companies provide solutions to help its customers maintain and improve equipment efficiencies. We had reason to believe a good market existed for us to explore.

Now the question was “how could wireless sensors and my client’s technology get the job of condition based monitoring done better?”  That was the core jobs-to-be-done hypothesis we would investigate.

Structuring an outcome statement

Remember from an earlier article (Outcome statements define the customer’s success metrics at every step of a job), an outcome statement has the following structure:


With the outcome statement structure in mind, let’s see what kind of outcome statements we can create from actual data:

Outcome Statement example 1:

“There’s certain equipment in our plant that’s hard to get to, or impossible to get to when it’s running.”

Outcome statements from this snippet might be:

  1. Increase the likelihood of monitoring hard to reach equipment in an industrial plant

  2. Increase the likelihood of monitoring equipment (with moving parts) while running

Outcome Statement example 2:

“End user values [CBM] but higher up the chain they don’t – [CBM] must be connected to business value”

  1. Increase the likelihood upper management will understand the value and ROI of CBM systems

  2. Minimize the cost of deploying and operating CBM solutions

These are just some simple examples of creating outcome statements by analyzing interview transcripts. There will be an enormous amount of data and information to extract from the interviews. Basic patterns in the responses will emerge that can be clustered and combined, making it easier to identify and extract outcome statements.

If you would like to get a summary of the actual WSN J2BD research we did, you can get it here: Wireless Adoption Study Key Findings.  The study provides more “how we did the research,” the questions we asked, who we asked and the preliminary results we found.

What’s next in your J2BD investigation journey?

At this stage, you will have mined a tremendous amount of insights and information you can use to start the product definition phase. Your success rate will be greatly improved now that you have taken the time to listen and understand  the important jobs customers want done, the desired outcomes they want to achieve, and how they measure success in executing their jobs.

Taking the guess work and risk out of innovation

Keep in mind however, the information in this phase has not been ranked by importance and satisfaction. In my article Underserved and Overserved Outcomes Provides the Guidepost to Innovate Around,  I discuss how quantitative research is used to identify important underserved and overserved outcomes we can innovate around to create highly differentiated products that the market has validated for us.

The jobs-to-be-done innovation framework is a repeatable process that takes a lot of the guess work out of defining a winning new product strategy. It’s not just for defining a winning  set of product and/or service requirements, but also gives us insight in creating an overall marketing and sales strategy to attract and retain new customers.

Here’s to knowing what customers want!


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