Last week in my article “Are Your Innovation Search Lights Ready For Exploration?,” I talked about why companies have difficulty seeing outside their current field of vision because of their tendency to be product focused versus focusing on important jobs customers are trying to get done.
It’s quite natural for us to become product oriented, especially if we have had the good fortune of being in a market that was clamoring for our products. All we had to do up till now, was to incrementally improve our products, stay slightly ahead of competition with better product specs and performance. And trust that our sales force can keep selling like mad.
So it seems when we are inside a growth market. But unfortunately something changes in the market environment. Customers eventually find better solutions to address their jobs to be done, and we miss out on the next wave of innovation because we are stuck in our old success models and lose touch with the fundamental jobs customers are trying to get done.
Ford once upon a time really was number one
It reminds me of the story of Henry Ford and his Model T car. In 1908 when Ford introduced the Model T, it was by all definitions a huge success and a revolutionary game changer – not of the auto industry but of the then transportation industry. So revolutionary that the Ford Model T was named the world’s most influential car of the 20th century in an international poll. It was the iPad of its time, there was nothing quite like it before. Sure there were lots of automakers around, but nobody put the pieces together like old Henry did – literally! (The assembly line is one of Fords major innovations.)
But by the Twenties, the auto industry had matured. Consumers taste had changed and consumers were looking for greater variety and driving experiences than what the Tin Lizzie offered. Ford stubbornly believed the Model T was all people really needed, and in any color as long as it was black. Ford’s refusal to adapt to the times and taste of the consumer almost destroyed his company.
If not for his son Edsel’s persistence in adapting to the new realities of market, the Ford Company may not have survived the Twenties. Henry was stuck on seeing the world through his product orientation eyes among other personality flaws.
Using a “reverse” jobs-to-be-done (J2BD) marketing lens to change from a product to jobs oriented perspective
Going from a product to a jobs oriented view isn’t really that difficult once we realize people buy (or hire) products to get important jobs done. To reoriented our view we just need to figure out what those jobs are and how satisfied customers are in getting those jobs done. Questions needed answering are:
- What jobs are people trying to get done by hiring our products?
- What are the ultimate outcomes they are trying to get done by doing these jobs?
- Is this the primary job they are trying to get done or one step in a chain of jobs needed to get done?
- What circumstances and constraints to they face in executing their jobs?
- And from their perspective, how satisfied are they with the outcomes they are achieve in getting their jobs done?
An example of using a reverse J2BD marketing lens to spot new opportunities
Look at any product in your office setting and take a reverse J2BD marketing lens view. For example, let’s use the scanner sitting on the corner of my very cluttered desk. Why do customers hire scanners?
Well yes of course to digitize documents and images. But why? What are they really trying to get done by digitizing documents? Well perhaps they want to organize their work flow better and get rid of all the clutter in their office. Or perhaps they want to share documents or pictures with others.
But perhaps what they really want to do is to improve their overall productivity by simplifying how they manage, store, access and control information. Scanning paper documents is just one of many jobs in the job chain of managing information in their workflow. Perhaps they really struggle in locating stored documents and are concerned how safe and secure the documents will be in storage, digital or otherwise.
Now of course document management is a well-established category at the enterprise level. But document solution providers will benefit by looking at the total job flow of transferring information into knowledge and enterprise wisdom from the users perspective.
And who else besides large enterprises have similar jobs to be done? For example, how about small and home offices? Are these job executers achieving the outcomes they desire by managing paper and information in their work environments? Are there things they would adopt if a scanner maker opened its lens to really see how people are dealing with paper and information overload and came up with a simple cost effective solution? I think so.
Look at the marketing landscape form a solution neutral perspective
To spot the next big opportunity and innovate, we need to remove our product oriented blinders and put on our J2BD marketing lens to spot what customers really struggle with and understand how they define success. Success to them may look entirely different than it does to us. Just ask old Henry Ford about what customers want versus what he thought customers should have.
Keep your eyes wide open with an open mind and you will find opportunities worth pursuing.