What Job Does Your Product Do?

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 09-16-20

Especially now, if your company has been disrupted by the pandemic, or you’re looking for new strategies to grow into the situation, people are thinking about new products, services, and value propositions. 

Most companies think about what they already have, what they are already doing, and just focus on better ways to sell it. But this is execution, not strategic thinking. If they truly get into the value proposition, they might think clearly about why someone might value what you are selling. This might lead to changes in what you offer. 

But if you really want to rethink your offering, think about what job your product or service is doing for your customer? What job do they have to do that your product or service solves for them? 

Clay Christensen explores this surprising set of insights in The “Job” of a McDonald’s Milkshake. Notice that the key to gaining these insights is the lean principle of directly observing work. Get to the point of activity, observe, and seek insights. Also notice that the customer doesn’t really know how to answer the question, which is why you can’t just learn customer insights through focus groups and surveys. Get past the customers’ knowledge, to true customer insight by observing their work. Understand the jobs they are trying to do, better than the customers understand it themselves, by combining direct observation with the right questions. 

Then, with true insight about what job a customer needs to have done, you can design or redesign your products or services to fulfill that need.