With the events of January 6th, 2021, we thought we would do a different type of episode and ask "How Would You Beat Trumpism" using Jobs-to-be-Done Innovation? Is this even possible? And importantly, beyond canceling donations to politicians who supported insurrection, what is the role of companies in defeating Trumpism? Can innovation theory help us understand the causes of Trumpism? Can JTBD help find a solution to Trumpism and the belief in lies?
Jay Haynes 0:02
Welcome to our podcast, How Would You Beat? In each episode, we pick a company and talk about how you could use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to beat that company's product. We'll discuss innovation theory and explain the methods so you can put the theory into practice at your company. I'm Jay Haynes, the founder and CEO of thrv, that's t h r v without the vowels thrv.com. We help product marketing and sales teams use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to build market and sell great products.
I'm here with my colleague, Jared Ranere. Today we're going talk about Trumpism. How would you beat Trumpism? This is definitely not our normal topic. Trumpism isn't a company. But obviously, the events on January 6th show that Trumpism can be violent and solutionist. They don't want to play by the rules of democracy. So what's happening and why. And we'll explore this question of how to be Trump to see if jobs-to-be-done innovation theory can help us understand what Trumpism is. What we can do about it, and specifically, what companies can do about it?
Jared Ranere 1:18
The way we always start our explorations into how you would beat a product or a company is to figure out what are the jobs that the customers are hiring the product to do? Customers are trying to get goals done in their lives, when they struggle to achieve those goals. They go looking to hire a product to help them get it done better. Simply put, customers aren't buying products, they're hiring products to get a job done. So to start, we need to set up our framework here. Number 1 is Trumpism a product? And if so, who was its customer? And what job are people hiring it to get done?
Jay Haynes 1:58
Those are great questions. And I would say yes, Trumpism is a product. It is a solution to something people are buying into Trumpism for some reason. They have something they're trying to achieve. Now, the basics of it, of course, are politically they wanted to win. So part of it is the job of winning an election. But I think it's much deeper than that. Why do people believe false ideas, and it goes back before Trump, as well. A lot of people have noted Trump is not the cause. He's the symptom. But I do think Trump is different. A lot of Republicans left the party because of Trump, of course and there now seems to be effectively political civil war in the party.
Jared Ranere 2:47
Yeah, it's interesting. Pause on that for a second. In some ways that notion of there's a job to win an election. The customers there might be citizens who just like to be on the victorious side of an election. Right? Say their guy won, but also other politicians, right. This is the attractiveness to the Republican Party. Politicians who want to win their elections and stay in power. That's a job - - are using Trumpism to do that. So that's interesting. And it sounds like what ????you're right today[a] is there are other jobs, that people are trying to use Trumpism to get done as well.
Jay Haynes 3:22
Yeah, that's right. Politics in government really is a solution to jobs that impact people's lives. That actually is true. And it's a good way to think about politics and government in general. Now, there's lots of debates on what's effective about it. What the role of government is in our lives. But clearly, that's what government is trying to do. Amongst other things. There's a broad spectrum of jobs.
Jared Ranere 3:51
Yeah, what are some of those jobs that we expect the government to do?
Jay Haynes 3:54
Yeah, of course, my favorite. My favorite description of the government is it's an insurance company with an army. I love that. Because it was just if you look at the budget, of course, what it's trying to do is protect people from financial disaster. Before FDR and Social Security half of people in the United States died in poverty. And of course, the Great Depression just created this financial collapse. So the idea was can we create an insurance company Social Security is essentially insurance you contribute into it and so you're not going to be destitute when you are old. And of course, the military is protecting our country and our government.
But what is happening in the world today, and why can jobs-to-be-done innovation theory help us? Trump is clearly different, the rate at which he lied, and of course, spread false memes. And to get into meme theory just a little bit. A meme is just a replicator. It's trying to spread through human brains. Richard Dawkins back in the 1970s coined the phrase genes to contrast it to a biological replicator, which we all know is the gene. And we're actually seeing evolution in real time right now, because Coronavirus is spreading and mutating. There's even a new UK strian that's more asymptomatic or more contagious. So we're seeing evolution in real time. And that's happening with memes. The idea of stop the steal, the election was stolen is a meme that's spreading very, very fast. And that's a real problem. Companies have a responsibility to help stop the spread of false memes. And yet, what we've seen is that false memes are very, very profitable.
Jared Ranere 5:48
Well, hang on. Before we get too far into that. Jay, I want to take a step back a little bit. I think it's interesting that you pointed out that one of the jobs we might expect government to do is help us maintain financial security, make sure we don't experience total economic ruin as a family, a household and as a state or a whole country. I think that's pretty interesting. And it raises the question of, is that something that people were looking to hire Trump or Trumpism to do? And did he get that job done? And how was his messaging set up to tell us that?
Jay Haynes 6:24
Yeah, I think that's right. I think this is what Trumpism is reflective of. Is that people thought the government was failing them. And we do have huge problems in this country. 47% of the population doesn't have $400 to their name. And people are very, very lonely. The irony of being connected on a global network to every human on the planet with instantaneous communication is we're lonelier than ever. And humans did not evolve to be lonely. We were evolved to be in larger groups and social groups, and we're incredibly social animals of course. I think what it did, you're probably right, he created memes. Not just Trump, of course, but in politics, there are memes floating out there that people are receptive to because of the level of anxiety and loneliness. Now, it wasn't only people who were economically anxious that showed up. In the insurrection there was the CEO, there was an Olympic gold medalist, there were people who were professionals, there were government officials. So it clearly wasn't just, Hey, people have economic anxiety and there's a straight line to Trumpism. It's way more complicated than that. But it is a result, I think, of companies now spreading very, very false memes very rapidly.
Jared Ranere 7:51
Well, let's get a little bit more specific about that. Companies in general does GE have any business spreading false memes? Are they doing that? It's social media companies.
Jay Haynes 8:02
Yeah. It's not companies in general. That's right. And of course, there's been a ton written about Facebook. But there was an incredible article on Facebook's algorithm and what Facebook discovered. And this gets back to the problem of incorrect innovation theory, I would call it. So Facebook, like a lot of companies thought their mission was to get people to use Facebook. So they created a product that was what they're going to do is keep you on Facebook as much as possible. And a lot has been written about this as well. You get this dopamine spike, and it makes you want more and more. But they created algorithms, which are part of their product, it's software, it's code that says, what are we going to show people in their feeds? And the algorithms revealed, Hey, when you show people really divisive stuff, they stay on Facebook longer. And that divisive stuff includes false memes, like the election was stolen, lots of other stuff before January 6. The problem was Facebook decided, Hey, that works. Let's keep doing it. They didn't say, Oh my gosh, that's terrifying, change our algorithms immediately, because it's going make people more divisive, and ultimately end up in insurrection.
Jared Ranere 9:22
So let me see if I can track this a little bit. We've got a segment of society who either is economically anxious or struggling with some other jobs that are fundamental that you might expect government to do or you're looking to get them done in some way and the current solutions aren't serving them. So they start looking for new solutions. Trump puts out messages that happen to work well as memes. What's the difference between a successful message like "Nike, Just Do It" and a meme?
Jay Haynes 9:59
Yeah. That's a great question. And in a way, they are the same thing. They're a human concept that's going to spread in human minds. Where I think companies have a responsibility, is they need to focus their innovation on jobs, as they're known in innovation now, they're called jobs-to-be-done. They are a goal that a human needs to achieve independent of any product or service. So there's lots of examples. No one wants records, or CDs, or iPods, or even Spotify. They want to create a mood with music. No one wants navigation apps or GPS devices or maps. They want to get to a destination on time, it's very logical. But what I think the difference is Nike's, Just Do It campaign. The example you're using is trying to get you to exercise. We know that exercise or compete in a sports event. But if you're trying to exercise, we know that exercise leads to optimizing health. So exercise is part of a real human job, which is optimizing my health. You don't exercise. You eat terrible food and you sit on a couch all day. You're going to die of heart disease or cancer, diabetes, whatever. So that's a real job.
The difference is, in meme spreading, the way it works is, memes don't have to be true. And they don't even have to be good for you to replicate successfully. And to contrast social networks and Facebook in particular, because they're the biggest to Nike. Facebook has a very different business model from Nike. Nike wants you to buy lots of shoes and run a lot and wear them out and then buy more shoes. And hopefully you get healthier.
Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook, so they can sell you more advertising and get more data from you. They're what's known as a two-sided market. The problem is, in any case, in almost every market, the goal for the company should be to help the customer get their job done, that makes their life better not to use the company's product. That's the real crux of the innovation problem. Not only is it a benefit to humanity, and the role that companies should play, because clearly companies created the mRNA vaccine for Coronavirus, which is clearly benefiting humanity. But when companies lose their way. When they focus on their product at the expense of the customer's job. And we've seen this with companies multiple, multiple times, because they set up their OKRs, known as the objectives and key results, or whatever metrics they're using to incentivize their employees. They set up those metrics and say, we need to get people to use our products more. And that's the extreme example of social networks. But this happens in other businesses, we've seen it a lot. And that's a real risk for those companies. Not only is it bad for humanity, when it allows false memes to spread, but it's a risk for the companies.
Jared Ranere 13:16
Yeah, this is interesting. I think that risk for the companies really sets apart Trumpism from Nike. The reason it's in Nike’s interest to put out memes or messaging that are true, and that they live up to, because you're going to make a decision about purchasing Nike much more frequently than you are purchasing Trump. You're going to make that decision frequently and you have a lot of options. So for example, I buy a pair of running shoes, because I want to exercise more. They are there to help me exercise more. They're comfortable when I do it. They help me get that job done in some way or they don't. Two months, six months, a year later, I'm making that decision again, and I might choose Adidas. And if Nike doesn't live up to that promise, they're going to go out of business.
Trumpism, on the other hand, just needs to make you make a decision once every 4 years. And the time horizon on which he's going to get a financial security job done is very long. It's very hard to see if he's getting that job done for you. The meme that he's putting out, number 1, he doesn't have to live up to them right away, because we don't actually need to make another decision about him soon. Number 2, he can make them feel good. They might get the job done and they might be the reason why you're not currently getting the job done today. He can provide scapegoats that for some people are comfortable if they don't look too hard at what's really going on and they just want to buy into his story.
I think that's really, really interesting and to connect that with Facebook a little bit. Facebook started if you look back to when they were founded, the way they talked was we want to help connect people. And then over time, you could argue how successful they were at it. But then eventually they said, Well, now we have to make money. So let's bring advertisers onto the platform. And they need to get the job done for advertisers and they refocused. For a long period of time on how do we help advertisers, acquire new customers or grow sales? And during that time they discovered that being a meme acceleration engine, just helping means get out there, good or bad, true or false, was an effective way to keep people's attention and generate a ton of advertising inventory, and also collect data about people so they could target the advertisers message. And the threat is that that doesn't work anymore. That people realize they're not being connected socially. So they stop using it. Advertisers get less in inventory. And some other company provides a better advertising solution to help advertisers get the job done and Facebook goes out of business. So Facebook is vulnerable to spreading false memes in a way that Trump wasn't for the past 4 years after he got elected.
Jay Haynes 16:21
Yeah. I agree with that. And I think history gives us really good examples of where this risk that we're talking about is. So in other words, the idea here is that spreading false memes because you're focused on having your customers use your product more. That is a risk for companies. And history proves this to be true. Again and again and again. And one of the best, most recent examples is Yahoo versus Google. Yahoo, I think Yahoo ended up being bought for about $20 billion, or something.
Jared Ranere 17:05
Jay Haynes 17:06
Yeah. Was it Verizon,
Jared Ranere 17:08
Verizon, but AOL and Yahoo for not a huge amount of money.
Jay Haynes 17:12
Yeah, not a huge amount of money. Remember what Yahoo was doing at the beginning. Yahoo was the darling of venture. It was a hugely successful company, as a search engine. And what they did was they wanted people to use their product. So they had human curated search results and they had a classification and categorization. If you were searching on sports, you would see more sports pages. If you're searching on vacations, you'd see more vacation pages. If you're searching on medical, you'd see more medical pages, etc.. And a competitor named Google came about and they helped you find information faster and more accurately.
This is the key to jobs-to-be-done innovation theory. In every case, customers want to get the job done faster and more accurately, so they can get back to their lives. They didn't want to spend time on Yahoo, that's not a job. So in every case, where it's, use my product more and you set up your product team to use the product more. That's not your customer's goal. And the risk for Yahoo was real.
Google was faster, more accurate, obviously took over search, and became a much more successful company. Now, this is the early days. YouTube has algorithms just like Facebook now. So, of course, Google now is contributing to the same problem that leads to Trumpism. And that is, I think, the way that companies can think about how they contribute to stopping the spread of false memes that can be very damaging, that are like Trumpism. By really focusing on a job that's important to customers.
Now, I will qualify that in just one sec, which is, if you're in the arts and entertainment, people obviously want to use your product more and more, they want to spend a lot of time reading a good book. They want to enjoy a film or television show, and they want to listen to music, right? So those are jobs where people want to be immersed in them because they're creative. But in all the other what we call the kind of functional categories of consumer business or medical jobs. People want to get the job done with your product and go back to their lives. They want human connection, and they want creativity. Humans are social, we want to live those meaningful lives and spending time with your product is not the goal of your customers.
Jared Ranere 18:15
Yeah, one simple way to look at it, which I feel like we never talked about this enough, not you and I Jay, we talked about it all the time. But we, the product, community and technology community at large, is that if you're going to do the job for advertisers, help them grow their sales, you need to find consumers who want to buy stuff who have that job. And when you look at Facebook that way, why do you assume that people who are hanging out with their friends want to buy a product at that time? How does that get the job done? Then if you compare that to Google, it's totally different, right? You're going into Google to find information. Sometimes that information is in order to achieve some goal, get some job done. So you're happy to be proposed with some service or product that can help you achieve the intent you went to Google for. You're in the mode of looking to buy something. So over time, just on that basic analysis, it seems like Google's going to continue to win, and Facebook will eventually lose.
Jay Haynes 20:42
Yeah, although Facebook has gotten very good at targeted advertising, they have been very successful on both sides of the market for consumers to keep them engaged, even though they're creating division and hatred and all that. But on advertisers, they have been very successful. So you are right. Google was extremely successful because if you're an advertiser, you knew down to the dollar, what it cost you to acquire a customer, as opposed to the famous advertising statement that 50% of advertising works. You just don't know which 50% it is. But with Google 100% down to the dollar what your customer acquisition costs are. Advertising is not inherently bad. If you're looking for a solution to some health problem, your kid is having or some health problem,you're having, or some vacation you want to go on or some career advancement or new skill, you want to learn.
Advertising is really good, because you're in the market. You're looking to get a job done. You're trying to figure out what solutions are out there. The problem comes, I think, exactly what you're saying, Jared is when you've got a false meme spreader system, that is what you've discovered is how to keep people on your site and giving you data. This is the hope and this is hopefully companies really have a big role in this. Beyond just they've already started to stop their donations to the insurrectionists. And the politicians who were spreading the big false meme. The big lie that Trump won the election. And that's good. They should do that. Obviously, that's just the minimum they should do. What they really need to focus on is helping people make their lives better through helping them get their jobs done. Not by using their products. I can't state how important that is. And it's a better economic model. The history of Google and Yahoo is a great example.
Jared Ranere 22:50
Yeah, and I think we can break that down just a tiny bit in relationship to memes, because we talked about how one of the reasons Trump was able to be successful is because he was able to spread false memes very quickly, that interested him. A meme, essentially, it could be a phrase, a picture of video, anything that contains an idea and is inimitable. Not to go too deep into the Meme Machine and Richard Dawkins and how they define those things. But that's a reasonable understanding of them. Right, Jay?
Jay Haynes 23:21
Jared Ranere 23:22
So if that's true, then in order to replicate memes need a distribution engine, and they need receptive hosts. They need hosts that find these ideas attractive, find these phrases attractive, and then a distribution mechanism to spread them around. So in the old days, you could do it word of mouth could spread a meme. And that continues to happen today. But Twitter and Facebook are engines and YouTube is an engine to and mainstream media as a distribution engine for pushing these memes around society.
One way that companies can help stop the spread of false memes is to redesign their engine so false memes don't help make them successful. The other way, which I think you just pointed out, and I just wanted to put that within meme language is to change the conditions of the host. If people are able to get their jobs done better. Basic fundamental jobs, like financial security, economic anxiety, but also emotional anxiety and loneliness, and feeling more connected to humans and just enjoying their lives more. The hundreds of jobs that every consumer wants to do that there are many companies out there trying to help with. If those jobs get done more successfully by companies, then you don't have a segment that's struggling so much that they're willing to look to these false memes to get the job done. There's the engine that we can change and there's also the distribution engine that we can change and then there's the conditions of the host. The environment that makes these untruths attractive that companies can help change by getting more jobs done faster and accurately.
Jay Haynes 25:03
Yeah, I think that's a great way to put it. It really is sad what happened to Facebook, ????b[b]ut just the internet. The origins of the internet or this sort of information and human connection utopia. Even Sheryl Sandberg is still out there saying, Facebook is connecting humans. Here's a great example of where someone with cancer connected with someone else or a lost person you haven't seen all that. And sure that happens. But really, what they're doing is creating loneliness and division. It has the potential to connect us all. But when they set their algorithms out, obviously, what was more profitable is division and hatred and all that.
You're right, that we need to focus on humans and how we're intersecting with these technologies. And in my view, we are totally unprepared for what's about to happen. Because these false meme spreading systems and their hosts --exactly what you're saying. They're the humans who are spreading this stuff. It's about to accelerate, like nothing we've ever seen. The problem with that in evolution is that that kind of high speed change and growth never ends well.
In fact, that's exactly what the Coronavirus is. The Coronavirus in evolution, it's actually known as an evolutionary unstable strategy. So it's evolving so fast, it was really lethal. And it was really contagious, and it spreads through a symptomatic spread. So we fought back immediately. And within a year, we had a vaccine. And hopefully within this year, we're going to really stop Coronavirus. Maybe not eliminate it, but we'll have it under control. We don't have any equivalent to that for this false meme spreading. Hopefully what jobs theory and jobs-to-be-done can do is help companies figure out that path. And what I mean by that is Facebook says, Oh, yes, we'd like to help make human connections. But human connections is an entire job domain that is really, really complex.
If they really wanted to do that successfully, they would study all those jobs. We know from jobs theory, even a simple job, like getting to a destination on time, has 15 different steps and over 100 different needs and variables in the job. So jobs are incredibly complex. That's one of the values of theory, it helps you break down that complexity. It is not even remotely enough for Facebook to say we'd like to create human connections and while we allow people to post photographs of themselves and their family, that creates human connection. That doesn't address any of the true human needs of what it takes to connect in meaningful ways for other humans. And that's why I'm hopeful with this. I think we're wildly unprepared for these kinds of changes that are about to happen. The beauty is, all those changes are happening but human jobs are really stable. They don't change over time. They have inherent stability that gives us the ability to figure out how we need to innovate against those jobs. So getting to a destination on time, 100 years ago, exact same job. 100 years from now, it's the exact same job. Creating a mood with music 100 years ago, 100 years from now is the exact same job with the same needs. They don't change over time. That I think is our path to success. It's the path for companies to really help people's lives and potentially stop Trumpism.
Jared Ranere 29:04
It's fascinating to think about what would happen if you took the talent at a place like Facebook. Incredibly intelligent people who are extremely good at achieving goals. And set their goals as, measure how connected and healthy the connections are between people and how happy they are. And achieve that, regardless of how many times they open the Facebook app. It would be fascinating to see what would happen.
Jay Haynes 29:30
Yeah, and I think that's a good lesson for basically every company. If you're a leader at a company and you're thinking about the OKRs for your employees. The short term path to success causes the problems like Facebook and causes the risk. Set everybody up to get people to stay on Facebook so we can sell more ads. It can be a short term path to success, but it can also result in insurrection and Trumpism. If you want to take the longer term path, set OKRs and your employee incentives around getting the job done better.
Jared, I think that's a great point, they have a lot of smart people and clearly it's a leadership problem that Facebook. If you're an engineer, you're just doing your engineering job at Facebook. If leaders, especially product leaders, if they really set their OKRs and their metrics for their teams around the job that they're targeting. And defining that job as a human job that's meaningful and changes people's lives. Then they're going to be more successful and more sustainable over the long term. If you don't do that, you're at risk. You can already see the cracks in Facebook. Even Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founders of the internet, is creating a new company to help consumers, humans, own their own data and control their own data. And Apple's doing this too. Facebook's in a battle with Apple right now because Apple doesn't want Facebook to just randomly collect all this data without a user saying I agree to that. Hopefully, these days people are recognizing. They'll say, No, I don't want you to collect my data.
Jared Ranere 31:16
It doesn't even necessarily mean they have to kill the advertising business model. They could also set that side of the business to say, How can we connect services and products to our consumers in a way that makes them happier. And start to measure that. And then identify what their problems are, and connect them with services and products that will solve those problems for them and make them happier. If you measure that, that could lead to a lot. And advertisers would like that a lot more than paying for impressions that don't lead to sales.
Jay Haynes 31:48
That's right, it would increase the efficiency of advertising, increase the satisfaction of consumers who are trying to find things to get jobs done in their lives, and be better for everybody. I think there really is a path here. There's huge risks for companies. There's obviously risk for society. But I do think jobs-to-be-done innovation theory can make meaningful contributions to help stop the spread of Trumpism and false memes.
Jay Haynes 32:18
Thanks for listening to our How Would You Beat podcast, visit firstname.lastname@example.org. That's t h r v.com to get our free How To Guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.
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