In this episode we’ll look how you can beat your own product ideas using Jobs-to-be-Done. Can you create even better ideas that will create even more value for your customers? Can you improve your team’s product ideas in your roadmap?
👉 Download our JTBD Cheat Sheet for free here:
Key moments from today's topic on how you would beat Apple with Jobs-to-be-Done:
00:00 Jay and Jared talk about how it is important to beat your own product ideas.
07:17 Jay and Jared talk about how the customer needs need to be first over your product and the example of Apple’s iPad.
10:00 Jay and Jared lay out the steps to beat your own ideas using JTBD innovation theory: customer needs & target segment.
14:14 Jay talks about some examples of why customers keep buying certain kinds of products.
21:43 Disruption and beating your own product ideas.
28:17 Finding the signal in your backlog.
31:11 Customers will also fire your ideas.
Be sure to subscribe to learn more about JTBD!
Follow Jay Haynes on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jayhaynes
Follow Jared Ranere on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaredran
Welcome back to How would you beat where we discuss how you can use jobs to be done innovation methods to beat your competition? In this episode, we'll look at how you can beat your own product ideas, can you create even better product ideas that will create even more value for your customers? And can you improve your team's product ideas in your roadmap? So this is an interesting question, how do you beat your own product ideas? So Jared, why is it important to beat your own ideas?Jared Ranere:
I like that question. Because you would assume that you want your ideas to succeed. So why would you want to go about trying to beat your ideas. And the way I think about it is that lots of product teams and I've been on a couple of them have huge backlogs of ideas, right? You want to be an encouraging team member and an encouraging PM. Write you often think about as gathering requirements from stakeholders and your colleagues. And so people have product ideas all the time, you know, everybody's working at a company, you're constantly thinking about, how can I improve this product? How can improve our business, so they're constantly having new ideas. And as a PM, you don't want to shut that down. Because who knows what and your customers give you new ideas, try your customers, tons of ideas, write those constantly feature requests. And so you bring all those into the backlog and you say, hey, maybe someday, we could get to this. And you know, we don't want to kill any ideas, we want to just prioritize the good ones. And eventually, like we talked to a company we work with the other day, I think they said they had something like 1200 JIRA issues, and they had to figure out how should they prioritize that? It was because of this process, they just kept adding and adding and adding to their backlog. And the issue is that if you pick the wrong ideas from that super long list, and you try to do too much, it could be the kiss of death. And, Jay, I think that you've great ways of talking about this, right? It's the risk mitigation and how your product development investment is your biggest risk.Jay Haynes:
Yeah, yeah, and I think that's so important is, you might not also have the best idea for the time, there might be a better idea that you can do quicker and faster with less risk. So and, you know, we see this on both directions, which is, you're coming up with an idea that's too simple, and you need to build on it, because it's not going to create enough customer value. Or the idea is so complicated that, you know, you eventually you're you're at the level of curing cancer to make it work. And the what's fascinating about looking at this through the lens of the customer's job is there's often incremental progress you can make that is very low risk. Because first and foremost, if you understand those customers who have the most difficulty in the market today, and this is why customer effort scores and just measuring difficulty with getting the job done is is so much more predictive of whether or not you're creating customer value, because people are busy, people are very, very busy. And if you find those things that are very difficult for them to do in order to get a job done, and of course, you want to make sure the job is important to them. That given those criteria, where they struggle, the most of the most difficulty, you might be able to get something into market relatively quickly. And then build on that. And that's where you can beat your own idea over time as well. So you know, you want to make these decisions. For example, looking at your JIRA tickets, you know, how do you prioritize all those? Well, maybe there's some things that are actually going to create value that you've de prioritized, because they're, they might be simple or quick, but you just haven't been able to build the thesis that, hey, this is going to create value for our customers right now. Right? And that's kind of where jobs done, really brings together product marketing and sales, because you can get this stuff to your sales team quicker and start accelerating growth. And at the end of the day, all of this product work is to accelerate your growth. Yeah. And that is the the key goal, can you get stuff into the market now that can accelerate yourJared Ranere:
growth? So on that thread, right, can we get stuff into the market now? The counter argument of like you should say no to some of your own ideas, and you should not build everything is Lean product development, right? Which is not necessarily suggesting build everything but it's saying get out in the market, fail fast learn, get more out in the market. And the question is, you know, why? Why does that tactic have caveats, right? why would why? Why can we not just go wholehearted and say, Let's build everything and let's just see what worksJay Haynes:
Well, here's is a great way to visualize that problem, or the problem with that approach is, someone gives you a bunch of darts. And they say you should hit a target, but then they blindfold you and spin you around. Sure, you can randomly throw darts into the air. But you might hurt someone, meaning your company, and your prospects and your success. And you also might randomly hit the target. But that doesn't mean that's a good method. In fact, there's a lot of reasons that there's this asymmetry between venture investors with portfolios of company where they just, they just care if one of them hits the target. Because if you hit the target, it's, you know, the successes, you know, Google or Amazon. And it doesn't matter if every other Dart flies off and injures other people, right? You don't care, because you just made so much your money, wipe off the rest. But if you're an entrepreneur, or if you're an executive at a company, or if you're a product team, or if you're a board member, you know, you have that company, your goal is to hit the target, you don't want to randomly throw darts into the air, and hope it sticksJared Ranere:
well on to totally kill the metaphor. As an entrepreneur, you have far fewer darts than a VC does, right? You only get so many darts to throw as an entrepreneur, even if you're a serial, and so you better know where your dartsJay Haynes:
are cash. If you don't hit the target, you lose cash and its target, you make cash, it's pretty simple business, right? Straightforward. If you're not generating cash, you will eventually run out of money. You know, there are capital markets that can sustain, you know, ridiculous valuations and rounds of financing like today, which is great go out there and you know, have fun, but you at the end of the day, the companies that survive hit the target. So being more efficient at hitting the right target is the whole process. And so that's how you can judge your ideas. Right? If you're if you think your idea has a chance of hitting a target, well explain why that's the key is okay. And is that argument? Not? Because people want technology? Yeah. Because they don't they because they want your product, or the worst, which is also, you know, unfortunately, very pervasive in the, you know, lean movement is your customers don't even know that they need your product, because they have latent needs. That is, if nothing else, that should be that idea should be put to rest. It's so insulting to real humans, like somehow you're waking up in the morning, and you have no idea what you're trying to do with your life until something comes along and is the Savior. It's it's almost like a religious conversion idea. It's so crazy.Jared Ranere:
Well, not only that, but would you rather go after a problem that people don't know they have? Or do you rather they already have the problem? And you can say, hey, I have a solution. You only have to like that, then you convince them of half the thing? Not, you know, yeah, I only want to commit them to the solution, not the problem and the solution. Right? That's right.Jay Haynes:
That's right. Yeah. And, and also the confusion, I think, you know, we've talked about this. But the confusion also comes from thinking that people want a product, right, that they all wanted iPhones, instead of really recognizing that the iPhone got a ton of jobs done, all those jobs are the same, you know, we always references but one of the greatest ads of all time was actually for the iPad, when they'd really mature the the App Store. And if you look at what they were saying, every single one of those things was a stable job that never changed over time, just the way you could do it was different with an iPad and rise with other computer platforms.Jared Ranere:
So to put a really fine point on it, you somebody might say, Oh, well, there was a latent need for iPhones. And, you know, Apple tapped into that. And we're saying, that's not really what's happening, there was an explicit need to, you know, create a mood of music really fast on the go, to communicate with friends and family, you know, both in written form on the internet and via phone really reliably and quickly on the go. And there were unmet needs within those goals. And those are the needs. Now, the iPhone is a solution that satisfies them incredibly well, people didn't know they that they wanted that solution. And you have to make that demonstration of how that solution satisfies the needs. So how do we apply that notion to your product roadmap and beating your own ideas, right? So you've got this backlog of ideas. We've established that if you try to build all of them, and you missed the target too many times you'll eventually run out of darts no matter how low the cost of technology development is. And so you've got to pick the right ideas. So how do we do that?Jay Haynes:
You Yep, and and this is where we've all been through these processes these idea generation sessions before and, and of course, the the traditional ways to get in a brainstorming room and brainstorm ideas, and we'll look at some reason or no bad ideas. You know, back in the late 90s, when I was at Microsoft, we had a brainstorming room, and it looked like, you know, my, my children's preschool with Tickle Me Elmo and finger paints and colors, and you know, is supposed to be the creative room, and there was no bad ideas, you could come up with other whatever crazy ideas. So the better way to do it is to figure out what your customers are struggling with. And that's basically the job, as the terminology is used today, but they have a problem you need they need to solve is also another way to phrase it. And the key is that that thing is independent. So it's got a lot of variables in it, it's got a lot of criteria, if you're trying to just get to a destination on time, right, like the iPhone was hired, because it's easier to get to destination on time with a phone that navigates you there. And that job, you can break it down, like any job into a whole series of steps. And those are criteria. That's the key concept when you're trying to beat your own ideas, or you're trying to beat your competitors ideas, or you're trying to think of new ideas, that what you're trying to solve for is the key. And the that's the that's the first element. The second is, of course, that your idea has to be faster or more accurate. And this, I think, is one of the hardest things about adopting job pseudonyms for teams. Because and I think it's because we're humans, we like to build stuff, and stuff has features, if you're building products today, right knobs and dials and options and settings and preferences, your customer doesn't want to deal with any of that, they they want to click a button and get a job done. Now, that can be very, very hard to do. But that is the goal. And that means that the criteria that you're using is speed and accuracy, you can always get the job done faster and more accurate until it's just automatically instantaneously done. Right. And that is that's the criteria, that'sJared Ranere:
Can you satisfy an unmet need faster, more accurately than the existing solutions available to your customers? And, and so the antecedent to that is having alignment on which unmet needs you want to focus on and which customers? And and that's how we set up our jobs based on product strategy. Right. So you choose a customer, and you can define that customer at a relatively high level or, you know, consumers, sales people, you know, health care providers, you know, a customer who's trying to achieve some goal, they have a goal. Yeah, common. You set up your job. And then you need to figure out what are all the steps that Jay mentioned, right, there's a process that people have to go through to get that job done, there's a lot of steps that go into it, there are variables that can cause those jobs steps to go off track, you're telling the story of what the customer needs to do to get that job done effectively. So now you have your framework of a customer goal, and a bunch of steps that have to take now you need to figure out, do I need to target all consumers? Do I need to target all doctors, all salespeople? Or is there a smaller group of people that I can get a toehold with really quickly because they're struggling a lot. And that that group of struggling people will be my early adopters, my first users that love the solution that I generate to satisfy their unmet needs. And that is what we call your target segment. So you've got a customer, a job, a target segment that struggles a lot. And most importantly, that target segment is willing to pay to get the job done, assuming that you're going to charge your customers.Jay Haynes:
Yes, how you're going to make money? Yeah, that's great. So let's use some concrete examples. Because that's a lot of theory packed in. That's great. And if people want to learn more about this, we have more videos and a whole bunch of stuff to explain the theory. But practically, let's, let's look at some examples. And I'll use myself as a customer of products. So throughout my history of products, it was fascinating to me why I kept buying Apple products. So my dad, you know, we talked about this in the Apple podcasts, because my dad was, you know, obviously, he's my hero and got me into computers back in the 70s. You know, that was pretty ahead of its time. And so he was a das guy, and the Mac came out and I just was immediately enamored of it. And I couldn't explain why. But if I look back on it, it's clearly because I could get to the things I wanted to do on a computer was included. Learning how to program a computer, and write code and music. And just a graphical interface if you are going to record music on a computer. I mean, typing in commands is it's it's almost it's I think it's literally impossible. I don't think anybody has ever been built a like command line. A music app. Actually, that's not entirely true. I studied at Stanford, in the 80s. And I wrote computer music on a thing called the play, which was this huge, you know, refrigerator sized computer. Now I'm really, really my age. But you would write in code, and it would output music. It was pretty, it's actually pretty cool. But but you know, you couldn't do what you would do in modern day music. But then Okay, so why did I switch to the iPod, I had a huge CD collection. And yet, I spent weekends, once I figured out that I could fit all of my CDs on a hard drive, there was a milestone at which, you know, whatever it was 600 CDs, or something could fit onto a hard drive. And so I I rip mix burn, right, I literally converted them all over to iTunes, just in a visit before the I think even before the iPod, or that made the very, very early days, and then, you know, you switch everything iPod, and then then I now it's all streaming, I don't even have a technically a record collection, right? You know, it's just you're, you're paying into a service, and you can listen to whatever song exists, you know, almost in the universe, I mean, combined with some of the other services, and you really can access an just an insane amount of music. And it's all because creating a mood with music was faster and more accurate every single time. You know, there was a big platform change, it was much better. And you can even look at like Tesla today. Right? So there was a segment in bacteria segmentation point, Jared, there was a segment of customers that I was in there was trying to create a mood mood with music faster. And I went through a lot of pain early on to use iTunes to convert my entire collection. And then now no one was ever gonna need to do that again, right? You type in whatever song you want. It's like this play. Right? And that's true of so many different products.Jared Ranere:
Right? And I think that key is, who's going to pay for this? And is that group of people big enough for you to achieve your goals? Right? So? And are they willing to pay enough for you to achieve your goals? And, and this really helps with focus, right? So if you think about, if you say, like we're building for everybody, then suddenly that criteria of what are the unmet needs for everybody gets really diffuse. And it's hard to say which ideas are bad, because it's pretty rare that everybody has the same unmet needs. It's it happens sometimes. And that's, you know, that's why products can take fire, and, you know, get hundreds of millions of users very quickly. But that's rare. You know, even Facebook, which has a billion users today, did not start there, right, they chose a very specific target segment of college students, because they thought they had specific unmet needs, that other people didn't really have, and potentially weren't ready to adopt a digital solution that that satisfied those unmet needs. So they went very specifically after that problem, and grew over time. And so creating that focus around this segment is big enough for now. And we're going to focus on their needs, can really help you say no to a lot of ideas, you know, if you're targeting if you're a b2b, and you're targeting an enterprise business, you know, say let's say companies with 10,000 employees or more, and somebody has an idea to go down market. Well, is now the right time to go down market. Should you start targeting SMBs? Well, what are your growth goals? How much revenue do you have to generate? Can you generate that amount of revenue with your existing target segments? Or do you have to go downstream to expand your market? I think those are the key questions when you're defining your strategy.Jay Haynes:
Yeah, and I think looking at some b2b examples, you know, Salesforce is a great example. Then when they started, they had to convince people to put their customer data in the cloud, people didn't even know what the cloud was or SaaS application, they really had to define the industry. So what they had to do was find those customers that were willing to essentially take some risk, because it was risky, you know, to on prem was like lockdown by security guards, and, you know, your data was supposedly secure. They had to convince people that the cloud was a safe place to be. And so in order to do that, the The goal was still to help them with the job of acquiring customers. It's just that those initial customers of Salesforce were willing to take that risk because they saw the benefit of having this data reside in the cloud for the whole team. And they weren't willing to spend I mean, remember, it was a huge industry to install, you know, our CRM system like Siebel in eight years, and it was always behind schedule and over budget, you know, and this is why this is why interestingly, sales forces first marketing campaign was no software because they realized that the target segment that they the only people who are going to switch acquiring customers to an online SAS were people who were so fed up with trying to use software that they were they were willing to do it. And that's a great segmentation method. Now, everybody has to follow that, right? I mean, yeah, I get there still some on prem systems, but you know, basically, everything's moving to the cloud, because you and you can predict that because no one wants to get the consumption jobs done, which is install software. I mean, now I just, you know, I, I'm definitely old enough, I've been through some technology cycles, installing a scuzzy drive. Alright, on your computer, if anybody remembers what,Jared Ranere:
I actually don't know what that is, maybe I don't need toJay Haynes:
painful parts of my technology experience. But literally formatting a drive and having it show up in your computer, it was insanely hard. And then like, you had to install the software. And that was a whole other thing. And now, of course, you know, when you click a button, you're there. You don't mean to spoil anything. It's through a browser. Yeah. Yeah.Jared Ranere:
And I think it's, you know, in that that segmentation exercise that Salesforce data straight out the disruption playbook, right, you go after a low cost segment, you create a product that's good enough for them, that takes less time to get involved with and start using, it's not as robust as the incumbent is that Siebel systems is for the really sophisticated customers. But over time you add to getting the more of the job done, you add the features and functionality that a more robust customer would need and you overtake the incumbent. That's straight out of the disruption playbook.Jay Haynes:
Yeah, and that's a great point to bring up disruption in the idea that you can beat your own product ideas, where you might think that beating your own product idea is, is just curing cancer, like you have to create the optimal machine learning algorithm. It's interesting, we see this with a lot of companies where, yes, machine learning in AI can be very powerful, because it helps make decisions faster, it helps get the job done faster, especially in complex situations. But you don't have to start there. Everybody has this, you know, expectation that machine learning tomorrow is going to be 100% accurate instantaneously, all the time, it's like we already have, you know, turning level artificial intelligence, which we don't, that's very, very hard to do. So what what you can do is, and this is what disruptions theory shows you is you can pick a segment that has a lot of difficulty. In some dimension, they might not be, as you say, the large enterprise customers who are gonna pay a ton of money. But there's a large market, it's a large segment. And this is what jobs young can really do is identify these segments and say, Okay, let's go after that, because we don't need to deliver them turning level AI, we just need to help them get those job steps done better. And that's it. And let's do that. And then we'll come into a system and then lots of other considerations that people have different systems and data warehouses and all sorts of things. But given that, there's a lot of communication between applications and data, you know, through API's and whatever, you can do that. So you you then get into the market, essentially, what doesn't look like a full suite of products exactly like how Salesforce started, you know, and it doesn't look like Siebel, it's worse. That's the idea behind disruption is that a new product comes in it's actually worse than the leading contender. But it also does compete on a lot of dimensions that are valuable, like not having an install software.Jared Ranere:
Yeah, I think one say that way to say is worse is it gets less of the job done. But it gets unneeded in the job done that the incumbent may not Google Sheets is a great example of that, right Google Sheets got into the market and it satisfied collaboration needs and various project management and other jobs you would do with spreadsheets. But it was way less effective at statistical analysis and financial analysis jobs that Excel was quite good at. So it got let fewer jobs done on that platform. But the needs it did satisfy it satisfied them light years faster and more accurately. Literally. I think they actually I think I think Google Docs and excel you actually are collaborating faster than the speed of light because of the way they set that up. was so much better than than try that'sJay Haynes:
a whole other discussion. But technically not faster than the speed of light.Jared Ranere:
Yeah, I think physics fake it out. Super interesting article that this one's that they like fake out an atomic clock by setting them differently. I it's I don't know the details of this. But it makes it feel like you're it's instantaneous when it's actually not. Yeah, in any case, it's it's a different dimension of the jobs, then the incumbents satisfy. And so that's this part, right? Yeah. Like once you have that segment and focus which needs are you going to get laser focused on and you can figure that out by looking at which steps in the job we want to target? Or which jobs we want to target? Are our segments struggling with more than the rest of the market? Yeah, I think that's focus is a filter.Jay Haynes:
Yeah. Yeah. And that's fantastic. And you're right. I mean, it was Google Sheets. And Google Docs was disruptive in the sense that it wasn't as full featured as word. But it's classic, you know, Word and Excel, were over serving the market. So very expensive, very high end, incredible number of features. And a huge part of the market was like, wait, I just want to collaborate on some text, literally, like gharanas formatted like, right, just, I need my team to collaborate on this document where we're trying to communicate. And it did a better job on that. Because that was that was actually the area of Google's expertise is in the cloud, just be able to do everything from the ground up in the in the cloud. In fact, Google's only applications for browsers I mean, you know, they're obviously Android apps. But you know, they're not making enterprise on device, you know, PC based apps, it's all in the cloud. And, and so I think that is, the key is knowing which dimensions you're going to improve your product on. And that's what I think is where if you try and beat your product, in the in the theme of, you know, today's episode, if you're doing that you need the what dimension? What criteria are you using, to decide if your new idea is going to beat your existing idea, or your competitors idea, right, it's the processes the same. And the goal is that you do that for everything in your roadmap. And you have the thesis that says this is going to accelerate our revenue growth. Because at the end of the day, and this is one of the things we see with product teams a lot is product teams are responsible for revenue, they're not they don't have quarterly numbers. They don't they don't think about revenue in a quarterly basis, or even an annual basis, they think about, you know, product success. But the goal of the product team is really to be empathizing so much with the customer that when the product comes out, the sales team doesn't have to do much people just there's so much demand for it. Because it's really overcoming a difficulty, it really is a different way of getting the job done, that people are very happy with. And, and, you know, emotionally, we always think about this as going from confidence, or moving from anxiety to confidence, so that you want your customers to just, they can't let go of your product, because it helps them in a situation where the job is important to them. It doesn't matter if it's parenting, or consumers or b2b or medical, you know, I mean, we're all in the middle of a pandemic, right? So there's just so much anxiety on a daily basis. And if you really can figure out that dimension that you're going to satisfy, you're, you're in a much better situation,Jared Ranere:
right? So you can think about that dimension as what are the jobs steps, you're going to target with your strategy, and then just use that as a filter for everything in your backlog? And now instead of you know, I love the the groom the backlog term, because, like, it's, it's so like, subtle, you know, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna groom it a little bit, I think you should mow the backlog. You should, yeah, that through that filter, just chop like separate the wheat from the chaff, like get rid of a ton. And then you'll have those key ideas. Now you need to figure out how are they going to deliver value against those jobs steps, they have to compare them to the existing solution, or that whole speed and accuracy conversation? Are they faster and more accurate than what customers are trying to do today to solve the problems in those jobs steps overcome those obstacles to get the job done. Once you've run that filter through them, you then may find that there's tech that you have to solve infrastructure, you have to deal with bugs you have to fix. But then those all become table stakes dependencies, if you will, to satisfying those key unmet needs to improving your product on those key dimensions for your target segment. So you have a much, much tighter constraints about what you're going to do and what you're going to not do. And I think we've seen this be successful with a lot of teams we work with, you know, just to help them kind of, kind of just get through the noise, right? Yes. Signal in their backlog?Jay Haynes:
Yeah, that's great. Because even with things like Tektite, like which tech debt Do you want to everybody's got tech debt. So then, and I think you're right, the signal to noise just, you know, because we're all using these incredible tools today. You know, there's a lot of product roadmapping tools, there's a lot of task management, you know, JIRA obviously, is kind of the dominant platform for software development. But you know, ATO and other platforms and I think you're right, it's, it's, where's the customer in all that, like that? is that's the signal. And what you want is to make sure that whether it's your ideas or your backlog of issues, or your tech debt, that your customer, this is what being customer focused really means is that your customer is in those conversations. It's, it's unfortunate that it's called product management and product innovation. Because it should be called customer management and customer innovation. Yeah, customer guys very Yeah, customer value delivery, something that's, I mean, we need some marketing help. But you know, something, it is about customer value, that at the end of the day, that's why companies are successful. And that's why they fail. You know, Clay Christensen, of course, you know, rest in peace, who was obviously the, you know, big proponent of Jaci done. And we recommend his books to everybody. The idea that your customers are not buying your products, they're hiring them to get a job done is the core just like foundational idea. But there should be the flip side that people remember, they will fire your product. And they have throughout history, the one thing that customers do that people do is they fire the old products, no one's riding horse and buggy. No one's using a paper map to get to a destination on time. Very few people are pulling out their vinyl records, you know, maybe for an emotional job. So, you know, in all, no one is, you know, very few people are taking photos of their family with film, and developing film, right, you know, I don't think anybody's using a Blackberry. So the all of those are examples of getting fired. And that's the other thing that you want to prevent. So you may think your ideas are great. So Blackberry, I'm sure had a great set of ideas, improve their keyboard device, they were all all the wrong ideas. Like literally every single one of them didn't matter at all, because they had fundamentally not grasp that they were being hired as a device to get multiple jobs done. So they needed to continue to improve the platform at the platform level. And those are those are the like earth shattering, you know, kind of humongous markets, where you're building that level of platform. But for for most companies, you know, you can just focus on a few of the customers job, you don't have to have this, you know, universal platform like a phone. Yeah. But the same, the methods the same.Jared Ranere:
Yeah, it's great. And so how do you beat your own ideas? You get a strategy and focus. It's focused on your customers identify that target segment know what their unmet needs are, what is the job they're trying to get done? And what are their obstacles? And then make sure you don't have anything on your backlog that's not focused on that and get laser focused onJay Haynes:
it. Yeah, that's a great place to end. So thanks, everybody listening. Hopefully, you'll join and subscribe. Check us out at thr v.com. If you want to learn more, take our free course. Get our ebook all about jobs to be done.