Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice
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At its heart, we believe Jobs Theory provides a powerful way of understanding the causal mechanism of customer behavior, an understanding that, in turn, is the most fundamental driver of innovation success.
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Creating the right experiences and then integrating around them to solve a job, is critical for competitive advantage. That’s because while it may be easy for competitors to copy products, it’s difficult for them to copy experiences that are well integrated into your company’s processes.
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At its heart, Jobs Theory explains why customers pull certain products and services into their lives: they do this to resolve highly important, unsatisfied jobs that arise.
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There is a simple, but powerful, insight at the core of our theory: customers don’t buy products or services; they pull them into their lives to make progress. We call this progress the “job” they are trying to get done, and in our metaphor we say that customers “hire” products or services to solve these jobs.
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We define a “job” as the progress that a person is trying to make in a particular circumstance.
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A job can only be defined—and a successful solution created—relative to the specific context in which it arises.
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The circumstance is fundamental to defining the job (and finding a solution for it), because the nature of the progress desired will always be strongly influenced by the circumstance.
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What Is a Job? To summarize, the key features of our definition are: A job is the progress that an individual seeks in a given circumstance. Successful innovations enable a customer’s desired progress, resolve struggles, and fulfill unmet aspirations. They perform jobs that formerly had only inadequate or nonexistent solutions. Jobs are never simply about the functional—they have important social and emotional dimensions, which can be even more powerful than functional ones. Because jobs occur in the flow of daily life, the circumstance is central to their definition and becomes the essential ...more
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Needs are analogous to trends—directionally useful, but totally insufficient for defining exactly what will cause a customer to choose one product or service over another.
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The forces compelling change to a new solution: First of all, the push of the situation—the frustration or problem that a customer is trying to solve—has to be substantial enough to cause her to want to take action. A problem that is simply nagging or annoying might not be enough to trigger someone to do something differently. Secondly, the pull of an enticing new product or service to solve that problem has to be pretty strong, too. The new solution to her Job to Be Done has to help customers make progress that will make their lives better.
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No matter how frustrated we are with our current situation or how enticing a new product is, if the forces that pull us to hiring something don’t outweigh the hindering forces, we won’t even consider hiring something new.
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Jobs Theory helps innovators identify the full picture of the progress a customer is trying to make in particular circumstances, including the complex set of competing needs and relative priorities. You have to understand not only what customers want to hire, but what they’ll need to fire to make room for the new solution.
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One of the fundamental mistakes that many marketers make is to collect a handful of data points from a huge sample of respondents when what they really need—and this interview illustrates—is a huge number of data points from a smaller sample size. Great innovation insights have more to do with depth than breadth.
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New products succeed not because of the features and functionality they offer but because of the experiences they enable.