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What job (or jobs) should a development team innovate around?

The jobs-to-be-done  (J2BD) framework is built on discovering important jobs people want done but are either struggling with getting the job done  – or they aren’t aware yet of how a new solution can dramatically improve their job execution – both in terms of effort and results.

Before we can apply the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework, we need a starting point and direction to focus our innovation efforts. After all, it doesn’t do us much good to begin in a total white space if our efforts don’t produce concepts that solve important jobs people want to get done. Nor does it do us much good to discover an opportunity requiring a solution set way outside of our ability (and desire) to realistically execute.

Why do customers hire your current products?

A good starting point to identify important jobs customers need to do, is to start with your current solutions and reframe the market from the customer’s perspective. Start the process by asking amongst yourselves:

  1. Why do our current customers hire our products in the first place?

  2. What jobs are they trying to get done by hiring us?

  3. What ultimately are they trying to achieve by doing the job? (their ultimate desired outcomes).

  4. How much of the job do they get done using our solutions?

  5. Under what circumstances are they trying to get their jobs done?

  6. What constraints do they face in executing their jobs?

Continue to explore other potential job executors:

  1. Who else out there might be trying to do similar jobs but perhaps with different circumstances and desired outcomes?

  2.  If we can identify these groups of job executors, might we be able to adapt our solutions to fit their needs?

By answering these questions, you can formulate the important jobs customers are trying to get done by hiring your current products. This provides a starting point to focus your jobs-to-be-done research to discover opportunities you might otherwise miss because of the limitations associated with being product, technical and/or sales oriented. (See last week’s article –Product Orientation Leads To Red Ocean Battles – Whereas a “Jobs” Orientation Leads To Blue Oceans.)

Starting from an initial idea or technology  “what if …”

Another good starting place is to begin with your technology capabilities and ideas. A lot of development teams I work with start out with an interesting technology idea but without a predictable innovation framework, they get stuck and lose interest in the idea.  Or worse, march forward without truly validating the concept until after launch.

Validating a product concept after launch is risky business which more often than not leads to commercial failure.  But we can manage the risk by applying the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework.

Starting with the “technology solution” (product concept) ask the following questions to form a core “jobs-to-be-done”  hypothesis

  1. What are the solution’s/technology’s capabilities?

  2. What barriers does it overcome?

  3. What objectives/desired outcomes can it address?

  4. In what circumstance will it be most effective?

  5. What constraints does it overcome?

  6. For what jobs is the solution applicable?

  7. Who would hire this solution for this job?

You should be able to come up with several user personas and circumstances where your solution has potential appeal. The next step in the innovation process is to tighten up the potential range of target customers by doing some quick and dirty market research. Use secondary research to see what’s out there and what products and services customers’ are currently hiring to get their jobs done.

If your concept  is a promising new technology in the early stages of market adoption, most likely you will find a lot of secondary data that provides some evidence that there is a potential opportunity out there.  At  least from  the perspective of industry evangelist.

A promising idea or a solution looking for a problem?

But if you aren’t finding a lot of information on what jobs people are trying to get done and their current “how they get it done,” you may very well have a  phantom solution that doesn’t match a real problem. Or the problem is still too early in the adoption cycle to be commercially viable at this time.

Both insights are valuable, and will help you to strategize on how to move forward. That might mean reshaping the concept, or perhaps postponing or abandoning the concept to focus on more promising opportunities.

Job statements you can now test, validate and refine

With a little upfront and inexpensive research, you can create a well-crafted jobs-to-be-done hypothesis (job statement) as your focal point to applying the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework.  The J2BD framework will provide you the means to test, validate, refine and/or steer you in the right direction  in creating a highly differentiated product that solves an important job-to-be-done customers are longing for.

“How-to” test and refine the business hypothesis is the subject of upcoming articles.


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