I recently read Clayton Christensen’s book “Competing Against Luck”. Clay who is widely regarded as the foremost authority on innovation and growth presents a path-breaking concept every company needs to transform innovation from a game of chance to one in which they develop products and services customers not only want to buy but are willing to pay premium prices for.
After years of research, Christensen has come to one critical conclusion: our long-held maxim—that understanding the customer is the crux of innovation—is wrong. Customers don’t buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. Understanding customers does not drive innovation success, he argues. Understanding customer jobs does. The “Jobs to Be Done” approach can be seen in some of the world’s most respected companies and fast-growing startups, including Amazon, Intuit, Kimberly-Clark, Minute Clinic, IKEA, Airbnb, and Chobani yogurt, to name just a few. It is not about celebrating these successes—it’s about predicting new ones.
Early in my career I was attracted to turn around situations. Because of this and the inevitable exit strategies involved I needed to learn and practice an effective process of finding the next opportunity. One of the CEO’s I worked with early on gave me the great insight that the search for a new career opportunity (or the right candidate) is a classic marketing project (research, alignment, and focus). It is common practice to identify attributes, experience, and knowledge in designing jobs to be done within organizations. Equally common is developing resumes that summarize these same things. But most of the time this process is lacking in the alignment necessary to achieve the desired result.
I learned that by researching, focusing on and understanding what and why an organization wants to “hire” someone to fill a key position, any candidate can improve their chances of finding the position they should be in, being identified not only as the candidate the company wants to hire, but that they’ll pay a premium to bring into their organization. Effectively aligning the jobs to be done with the attributes, skills, and knowledge required offers new hope to companies frustrated by their hit and miss efforts in hiring the right people. This process in practice enhances the quality of careers and lives and the performance of organizations through the identification, attraction, and hiring of the right talent.
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