Understanding the Job – Clay Christensen


LinkedIn Speaker Series with Clayton Christensen


What job is your <product, service, significant other> being hired to do in the lives of the people who want to use it?

Start of picking at the low hanging fruit, no one will notice.

Then constantly get better.

Soon, you’ll have the momentum and the tested capabilities to take on the market leading share of high end products and everyone will wonder where you came from.

Lexus didn’t start out developing high end cars.



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Clay: The Jobs to be Done framework is important to me because I need to
understand causality in my life. If I try to understand the world by
collecting data, the problem is that data is available only about the past.
It can measure the result but not the cause. If I have a company and I want
to know if people are going to buy my product, if I get information about
you- here I am, Clay, I turned 60 years old unfortunately, our youngest
child went to college unfortunately, and I live in the suburbs, I work at a
place like this, so these are all characteristics about myself. But, these
characteristics have not caused me to go out and buy the New York Times

Bob: Right.

Clay: There might be a correlation between these characteristics and the
propensity to buy the New York Times, but it doesn’t cause me to do it.
What causes me to buy it, is the job, a job just arose in my life that I
need to get done, and I go out and I find something that will get the job
done, that’s the “causal mechanism”. In innovation, if I want to know that
customers are going to buy my product or not, I’ve got to understand the
job. That’s the unit of analysis.

people don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a
quarter-inch hole.

Open Table is a great example. There’s typically no shortage of attraction to
going out to eat. This is something that people want to do all the time.
But when you look at the anxiety with regards to ‘well first I have to make
plans with people’ like Clay says, ‘I have to make plans, and I;m going to
tell them all a specific time, and then I’ve got to hunt down a restaurant.
If the time doesn’t work, I’ve got to call everybody back’ that’s that
emotional energy that we always talk about where, nobody would explicitly
come out and tell you ‘yeah, I hate making reservations’ its just not
something that anyone would talk about. But, if you talk about the last
time people made reservations, you get enough stories where you could pull
out that energy.