So it’s Christmas time and once again I find myself wondering why do I need to put up a Christmas tree anyway? What’s the purpose or job-to-be-done? Why do I spend time doing this? Why am I so grumpy about it anyway?
And why an evergreen tree? Where did that come from? I have never been to Bethlehem, but I am pretty sure there aren’t evergreens there. So how in the world did an evergreen tree get associated with Christmas?
Bah-humbug! Putting up a Christmas Tree is a lot of work, I said to myself, and for what purpose?
Okay “Kevinezer” – let’s start with the purpose or the job-to-be-done of a Christmas tree. At the highest level, the job-to-be-done is emotional:
“To get into and be in the holiday spirit”
So how do people do that? Well there are lots of ways to get that job done. And in fact people do several sub-jobs (activities) to get into the spirt. One is decorating the home, and the Christmas Tree over the years has become a center attraction of decorating both at home and in public spaces.
How did the evergreen become the Christmas Tree?
That story turns out to be a bit more involved than I can do justice in a short blog. The long and the short, according to the History Channel
The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder. Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.
But the Christmas Tree was far from an overnight sensation. In fact as late as 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans. The turning point – or inflection point in management mumbo jumbo:
In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
Check out the History Channel to learn more about the history of the Christmas tree.
I would be lying if I were to say that I don’t enjoy looking at and experiencing Christmas trees, with the lights, ornaments and all. It invokes warm and fuzzy feelings and brings back many happy memories of Christmases by gone.
Yet I still pondered, why an evergreen tree? Real or artificial. The innovator and product developer in me said “there’s got to be a better way.”
Consider this, putting up a tree is time consuming, and then worse, you got to take it down when the holiday season is over. For me, taking it down after Christmas is both time consuming and emotionally depressing.
Those aren’t the only undesired outcomes I’d like to eliminate. And of course, I want to increase and achieve more desired outcomes by doing the job better.
For example, being able to display our ornaments so we can see and enjoy them better versus losing site of them inside the tree’s branches.
My wife and I over the years have collected a lot of fun and interesting ornaments to celebrate the holiday. Every year we add new ornaments to our tree. It’s a tradition for us. And we love displaying them and showing them off to our family and friends.
And finding a place to hang an ornament in a typical evergreen is a pain as well. So my goal in designing a new Christmas tree was based on maximizing my desired outcomes and minimizing my undesired outcomes.
First the short list of the functional jobs of the tree:
- Increase the visibility of seeing the ornaments on the tree. The ornaments are the center of attention and focus, not the pine needles.
- Decrease the time it takes to set up, decorate and display the tree.
- Decrease the time to take the tree down and store it away.
There are more, but you get a sense of the requirements based on functional job-to-be-done.
And the emotional job-to-be-done:
- Get into the holiday spirit by displaying all our fun ornaments on a unique hanging system called the “Never-Green” Holiday tree!
- Feel good about knowing that I helped address my wife’s desired outcome: decorating the house to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season. The best gift is the gift of love after all.
- And feel good about making something new and special, with my imagination and hands! Satisfying the “maker” in me.
For me the Never-Green gets my important job done better than a traditional evergreen, eliminating the hassles of putting up an evergreen tree and feeling great when I fire up the lights on my Never-Green tree.
Full disclosure – it used to take me about 45 minutes (best estimate) to put up my old artificial tree not including hanging the ornaments. With my new Never-Green – I am into it about 30 hours from design to implementation … hey it takes time to build prototypes, but next year by golly, it should only take me 10 minutes to pull it down from the rafters and set it up. Yippee!
So the Never-Green may never catch on fire (okay bad pun) like the evergreen tree, and may in fact not get your specific jobs-to-be-done in addressing your desired outcomes in getting into the holiday spirit, but as in all innovation adoption cycles, it’s got to start somewhere, even if it’s just a market for one.
What do you think? Tell me about your Christmas tree and the job-to-be-done it address. Would you adopt a Never-Green? Or are you sticking to tradition and the status quo?
Wishing you and your love ones a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!