Urko Wood is founder and innovation guide at Reveal Growth Consultants, Inc., in Columbus, Ohio.
Figuring out what matters most to your target members and where their unmet needs are—before generating ideas—takes the guesswork out of innovation. Get a jumpstart on generating better, focused, and more strategic ways to advance your organization’s mission.
Study after study has shown that the number-one cause of new product and service failure is misunderstanding the customers’ needs. More and more, organizations are incorporating the “Jobs to Be Done” (JTBD) approach at the front end of their processes to address this problem. Employing JTBD first can greatly enhance the effectiveness of other popular innovation processes, including design thinking, Lean, Agile, and Stage-Gate because it can identify and rank the biggest opportunities in the target market with statistical validity before ideation.
How is that possible?
JTBD achieves this by clarifying what type of information to obtain from your target members to achieve your growth objectives; how to get it; and how to use it to consistently generate, develop, and commercialize winning new ideas.
In “jobs theory,” customer and member needs are defined as the jobs they want to get done—functionally, emotionally, and socially—and the criteria they use to measure success. This is based on the insight that people “hire” products and services (and association memberships) to get their jobs done. This enables organizations to discover why people buy, which makes it highly predictive.
In other words, if you know you can help your target members get an important unsatisfied job done better than other current options, then you can be confident they will value your new offering. Here are four ways JTBD can help you grow your association.
Allows you to focus on what matters most to your target members. Most organizations don’t lack creativity or ideas; they lack focus. They lack clarity about where the market is underserved and where the best opportunities lie. Knowing what matters most to your target members and where their important unsatisfied needs lie takes the guesswork out of innovation. It prevents you from wasting time and resources pursuing needs that are not important, already well-satisfied, or phantom needs that don’t really exist among target members. This minimizes the dangerous disconnect between what people want and what we think they want. Only important unsatisfied needs are worthy of pursuit.
Providing leadership with research that identifies the top opportunities in your target market with statistical validity and also explains why an opportunity is attractive to pursue, JTBD speaks the language of business and design.
Provides the ability to consider opportunities that are attractive to your organization. With a ranked list of the biggest opportunities in the market, you can evaluate how attractive each one is based on criteria, such as your strategy, mission, and so forth. Great growth strategies are formulated by addressing big market opportunities while leveraging your organizational strengths. Getting clear about where the big opportunities lie, and which ones are attractive to pursue, enables you to start forging a tight product/market fit even before any specific ideas for new programs or services are generated.
Offers perspective that enhances creativity and opens new possibilities. Because JTBD captures need statements with language that is solution-free (i.e., no mention of any programs, services, etc.), you won’t be constrained by current offerings or even the assumption that a new product, service, or program is the best way to address an opportunity. In some cases, the best way to address an opportunity may be through a collaboration, partnership, merger or acquisition, joint venture, operational innovation, or simply better messaging and positioning.
Aligns the board and executive leadership team around statistically validated market opportunities. Leaders are often risk-adverse because they are being asked to make big bets on solutions before the market need has been validated. By providing leadership with research that identifies the top opportunities in your target market with statistical validity and also explains why an opportunity is attractive to pursue, JTBD speaks the language of business and design. This gives leadership confidence about where to focus and what to do, whether it’s creating winning new offerings, driving membership growth, generating non-dues revenue in nontraditional ways, or furthering the mission.
People don’t want to just buy an association membership; they want to get their jobs done. Products, services, technologies, and programs come and go, but the jobs that your target members want to get done are remarkably stable over time. By focusing on what target members want to get done, JTBD can provide leaders with a North Star to help them navigate through tumultuous times to a prosperous future.