Customers’ Role under the Job-to-Be-Done Framework
The Job-to-Be-Done framework presented here, and the CFI-Method (CFI = Customer-Focused Innovation) based on it, offer an effective way to avoid the three potential traps described above, and contribute greatly towards achieving the change of perspective most companies need.
The basic idea is quite simple: People pursue functional, emotional, or social goals in whatever they do. Under the Job-to-Be-Done logic these goals are referred to as “jobs”. To attain the respective goal, people use specific resources which may include a product or service, but also a supplier or an activity. Every resource is consciously or subconsciously judged by how effectively it helps master the job. For instance, an everyday job such as communicating long-distance is addressed using resources such as WhatsApp, a phone, a letter, a fax, or – back in the old days – a messenger. A job is solution-neutral and may therefore remain unchanged for a long period of time. Resources, by contrast, are subject to technological change (fig. 1).
A resource is used as long as it helps the user attain his or her goal. Existing solutions are only replaced by new ones when users consider this change to be “worthwhile”. This may happen very quickly (as was the case with the Sony Walkman or the smartphone), or slowly (as with on-demand TV) or not at all (as happened with the visual telephone back in the 1970s). The pace at which new solutions are adopted often depends on technology and the costs to customers.
The Job-to-Be-Done Logic avoids the pitfalls described above by a) strictly taking the customer’s perspective and thus eliminating perceptive distortions from the company’s inside-out perspective, b) rigorously disregarding possible solutions and thus transcending customers’ limited frame of experience, and c) embracing the possibility of breaking down a job into very small parts using explorative methods, and thus identifying tangible and precise expectation criteria which we refer to as Customer (or CFI) Value Metrics.
Creating a New Customer Culture
To achieve a change of perspective in practice and build a customer culture, we have integrated several approaches with the CFI Method and refined it further in over 90 projects. We will now describe the CFI Method’s three stages of transformation.
Transformation Stage 1 (Unfreeze): Identifying a New Customer Reality
The process begins by determining the stakeholder groups with the strongest influence on the purchase and use of the company’s products/services, as well as their respective context. Before entering into customer exploration, it is important that customers’ core jobs be defined as precisely as possible in an initial hypothesis. Each core job must express a purpose or goal; it has to be formulated in a solution-neutral manner and must be neither too generic nor too narrow. Usually, this discussion, and ideally a first exploration round, will already suffice to change people’s perspective, as it will demonstrate how different groups pursue very different core jobs (fig. 2).
Based on the job hypothesis, which is broken down into individual steps, each job is then explored in depth with the customer. This is one of the crucial elements of the CFI Method when it comes to uncovering customers’ reality: Through the exploration process, customers’ needs, as well as their functional, social, and emotional Value Metrics, are identified for each step of the job, using customers’ own language. The result is a total of about 300–400 Value Metrics, collected from customers that have been recruited anonymously, which are then condensed to a maximum of 100. Studying these criteria thoroughly is an important step towards developing a new, unbiased customer understanding.
The format to be used for the exploration step depends on the type of customers, the topic, and the effort companies wish to put into the monitoring the of customers. The CFI Method combines different elements from market research, user-centered design research, and ethnography. The key is to ensure that Value Metrics are phrased clearly and precisely and that they do not imply any existing or potential solution features for a product or service. They are to follow a predefined structure, which also determines their syntax (fig. 3).