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Understanding Desired Outcomes Customers Want In Doing A Job

Recall from a previous article that a job is a “task, objective or goal a person or organization is trying to accomplish or a problem they are trying to resolve.”

A job can range from a simple task like making a quarter inch hole, to a more complex objective like building a tool cabinet to store and organize tools.

But hold on a second: Is building a storage cabinet a job-to-be-done or is it a solution for a job-to-be-done?

More likely the primary (or ultimate) job-to-be-done is “storing and organizing tools for my home workshop.”  So is “making a cabinet” a solution to an important job or a “job-to-be-done?” Or is it both?

Without getting into circular logic, the answer is both if we look at “jobs-to-be-done” as a continuum of inputs and outputs. The “ultimate” job-to-be-done is to organize and store tools. There are specific desired outcomes a customer might want  to achieve in executing his ultimate job including:

  1. Increase the likelihood he will find the right tool he is looking for

  2. Decrease the time it takes to find the right tool

  3. Decrease the time it takes to store a tool

  4. Increase the likelihood he will not misplace a tool

  5. Increase the likelihood he will know if a tool is missing

  6. Decrease the clutter in his garage workshop

  7. Increase the security of storing his tools

In understanding the customer’s desired outcomes, perhaps a home organizer professional would conclude that a built-in storage cabinet with features to help customers put tools in their proper place would be the right solution. Perhaps not though – maybe a simple visual factory solution that includes peg boards and visual clues is a far better and cheaper solution that helps customers achieve their important desired outcomes.

The point of this discussion is that to really use the power of jobs-to-be-done methodology, the development team must approach jobs-to-be-done from a “solution-neutral” perspective. If I were to start off my jobs-to-be-done exploration with the idea “cabinets are the right solutions,” I may very well miss important opportunities to innovate and not truly understand important desired outcomes a customer is trying to accomplish.

What outcomes does a customer really want by doing a job?

Recall from last week’s article “Mapping Out The Steps Involved In Executing A Job Leads To Deeper Insight that all jobs have a defined set of process steps.

Each one of these process steps have an associated set of outcomes attached to them. For example, to drill our quarter inch hole, we need to locate the center point. This requires a job executor  to measure its location with an expectation of being accurate within some defined tolerance. Further, a job executor might want to increase the likelihood he can accurately place a pilot mark to spot his drill bit. And perhaps we wants to decrease the time it takes to complete the finish hole while decreasing scrap and rework because of miss locating the pilot punch mark.

We also discovered that many jobs are often part of larger jobs in a job chain and/or  job tree (see “How to Craft a Job Statement” ). Each one of these jobs along a job chain and job tree have their own specific outcomes that define the success of doing a job.

Thus we can see that jobs, especially primary jobs, can have a lot of desired outcomes customers are trying to achieve. According to Tony Ulwick in his book “What Customers Want”

“For most “jobs” there are typically 50 to 150 or more “desired outcomes,” not just a handful.”

Indeed, identifying desired outcomes inside a large job tree does require effort. But it’s an important step in the process because you never know which desired outcomes are underserved and which ones are over-served. By knowing which outcomes are important and underserved, and which outcomes are not important and over-served, we can create a solution that uniquely address a market opportunity. We will explore that idea further in upcoming articles.

In my next article installment, I’ll show you the proper syntax of defining desired outcomes, how to discover them and how to measure them.

My desired outcome in this series of articles is to give you a reliable and repeatable innovation framework that creates value for your customers resulting in market leadership and profitable growth for you.

I hope this is your desired outcome as well.


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