In previous articles, I explored the barriers and obstacles that new products and services face in their attempt to gain market share. In the article entitled “How to increase your chances of developing successful products,” I argued that understanding the jobs that customers hire our products and services for will increase our chances of successful design of products. In this article, I will explore how we can map out the jobs that customers are trying to get done. Thus, giving us a better chance of discovering breakthrough products and services.
We have established that people “hire” products and services to get a job done. However, many of us trying to build innovative new products or services do not take the “jobs to be done” approach to uncovering new ideas or opportunities for growth. Most of the time, our journey to innovation consists of muddling through customer interviews, looking for a chance to create a new product or service. This approach rarely uncovers the best ideas for new products. A more systematic approach to mapping out the “jobs to be done” is needed to discover the best ideas and opportunities.
In the HBR article entitled “The Customer-Centered Innovation Map,” Lance A. Bettencourt and Anthony W. Ulwick explain that by deconstructing a job from beginning to end, we can gain a complete view of the various points in which a customer might desire more help from a product or service. Bettencourt and Ulwick argue that by mapping out the “job to be done,” we can analyze the most significant drawbacks of the products and services that customers currently use.
What is Job Mapping
Job mapping differs from a process map. A process map maps out the current process that a customer is using to get a job done. Alternately, the goal of a job map is to identify what customers are trying to get done at every step of the process of performing the job. Bettencourt and Ulwick give the example of an anesthesiologist checking a monitor during a surgical procedure. The action taken by the anesthesiologist is a means to an end. Detecting a change in the patient’s vital signs is the job the anesthesiologist is trying to get done. By mapping out every step of this job, we can locate opportunities for innovative solutions.
Understanding the “Jobs to Be Done”
According to Bettencourt and Ulwick, every job has three fundamental principles.
(1) All jobs are processes. Every job has a beginning, middle, and end, and it comprises a set of process steps. Once we identify the steps, we can look for a way to create value by improving the execution of a specific job step; eliminating the need for input or output; eliminating an entire step from the responsibility of the customer; or enabling actions to be completed at a different time or place.
(2) All jobs have a universal structure. No matter the customer, all jobs have the following process steps: defining the requirements of the job; identifying and locating the needed inputs for the job; preparing the components and the physical environment for the job; confirming that everything is ready; executing the job; monitoring the results; making changes, and completing the task.
(3) Jobs are separate from solutions. Often, customers hire different products and services to perform the same job. For example, one person might do all their social media marketing themselves using an automated solutions platform, whereas another might use a digital marketing company. Others might hire both for different steps in the job process.
Together, these three fundamental principles of a job can form the foundation of our search for new opportunities to create value for customers.
How to create a job map
The goal of creating a job map should be to discover what a customer is trying to get done at the different steps in the job process. We should also focus on what needs to happen at each step of the process to get the job done successfully. Bettencourt and Ulwick explain that there are eight specific steps that we should take to map out a job. The steps are as follows:
This step involves determining what aspects of the job need to be defined upfront by the customer to get the job done. This identification includes learning objectives, planning the approach, determining which resources are necessary, and selecting the resources needed to get the job done. In this step, we can look for ways we can help the customer identify their objectives, simplify their resource planning process, and reduce the planning process.
We should look at the inputs or items that need to be located by the customer to complete the job. Bettencourt and Ulwick explain that these inputs can be tangible or intangible. For example, building materials for a contractor are tangible, and the computer software the contractor uses to estimate the project would be intangible. When tangible inputs are involved, we could look for a way to make the inputs more readily available or easier to access for the customer. These improvements can take the form of making it easier for the customer to gather the required inputs or eliminating the requirement on the input. There are also opportunities to help customers with intangible inputs as well. For instance, we could look for ways to help the customer collect, store, and retrieve data.
All customer jobs involve setting up and organizing the inputs to execute the job. To help customers with this step, we can ask questions related to how the customer must prepare the inputs and environment to do the job. We should consider ways to make the customer’s setup less difficult. For example, we could look for ways to make it easier to organize physical materials or automate the preparation process.
Once the customer has completed the preparation step, they will need to verify certain things before proceeding with the job to make sure that execution is successful. This step is critical for jobs that have the potential of risking the customer’s money. We can try and create products that would help the customer verify and confirm the correct materials and the right work environment.
In this stage, we need to look at what the customer must do to execute the job. No matter what job the customer is doing, they always consider this step the most important. One of the reasons for this is that this stage is the most visible of all stages. Customers are concerned with avoiding problems and delays at this stage. One thing that we can look to help customers within this stage is to design products that provide real-time feedback or automatically correct execution problems.
Here we must look at what a customer needs to ensure that the job is successful. In other words, what results does the customer have to keep an eye on during the execution of the job to ensure correct completion? We can focus on the results that the customer must use to determine whether they need to adjust to get the job back on track if a problem arises. This identification can allow us to develop products or services that streamline this process or eliminate them.
This step builds on the previous step and identifies what the customer needs to alter for the job to be completed successfully. Customers need help deciding what adjustments to make at this stage of the job analysis. They may need help in determining where, when, and how to make changes. The solution for this problem might be a dashboard or some actionable insight that the customer can take to correct problems during execution.
Finally, we must look at what the customer must do to finish the job. For simple jobs, this step may be self-evident. However, some jobs require additional processes to complete jobs. Complex projects may require a final job report or documentation to close out the project. The customer often views this step as burdensome because the core job is complete, but this is a final and essential step in the process. Here we can look for ways to help the customer simplify the process or eliminate the need for this additional step.
Some innovators developing products focus on features and others on customer personalization. Some offer new products or services, while others provide new versions of existing products. Regardless of which path an innovator takes to develop products or services, the basis for identifying opportunities is the same. We must first understand that customers “hire” our products and services to get jobs done. We can then dissect those jobs to uncover opportunities for innovation.
The Customer-Centered Innovation Map. https://hbr.org/2008/05/the-customer-centered-innovation-map