What a great week of Stretchery! I’ve been gluing together jobs to be done with aggregation theory in my day job for a while and I’m glad Ben Thompson made the glue himself this week, but I want to translate that article into what it means for Product Managers.
The fact of the matter is, we’ve reached a point of market saturation where anyone can build a product that does a job, however now people now buy based on how the job gets done. So when it comes to planning new features of a product, it helps to look at your product vision as the broadest perspective of your core job to be done in to help prioritize or invent features that either do your job better, or do your job in a way that new users might want.
In these scenarios, the old Theodore Levitt quote, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” no longer applies. Now customers care both about the drill, and how the hole is made because there is so many ways to get a quarter inch hole. It’s differentiation by user experience. We see this in the DTC mattress space, the music streaming market, and almost everywhere else there is competition. This differentiation by user experience is why it’s helpful for Product Managers to consider psychographics and behavioral segments to influence the prioritization of new features on an outcome based roadmap, as opposed to more easily measurable attributes like demographics or location.
These behavioral and mental models tell us not the JTBD (job to be done) that the customers want to achieve, but rather how they want to achieve it. As the aforementioned Ben Thompson put it:
There was a time when the customer’s point of view might not have mattered quite so much; it used to be the case that success depended on controlling the supply of a good or service, or owning the distribution channels through which goods or services flow. The difference with the Internet — and it is a difference that, thanks to smartphones, very much affects real world goods like cars and scooters — is that goods and services can, at least in theory, reach anyone. Distribution is free, and in markets where supply is plentiful, value accrues to the companies that own demand — that is, those that have the most end users thanks to their superior user experience; I call them Aggregators.
This isn’t “user experience” like wireframes, navigation & information architecture. This is user experience of the core JTBD–which an be found in the value chain. For Spotify, it was replacing record stores, then purchases on iTunes–not, the best way to play music. As they seek to grow, they tap into the broader version of the JTBD–the best way to facilitate the relationship between artist and fan.
If your product team is in charge of growth, or a growth feature, it becomes a matter of expanding your product’s core JTBD horizontally to capture the different types of users who want it done in different ways. When you’re in charge of reaching an engagement focused goal, it’s about doing the job you’re currently doing better–optimizing flows, speed, even new features that existing users will want.