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Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice Hardcover – Illustrated, 4 October 2016
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Clayton Christensen’s books on innovation are mandatory reading at Netflix. (Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix)
Competing Against Luck offers fresh thinking on how to get innovation right. Clayton Christensen and his coauthors offer a compelling take on how to truly understand customers by the progress they’re seeking to make in their lives. Bravo! (Muhtar Kent, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company)
Clay Christensen and his co-authors have presented critical business thinkers and doers with a breakthrough theory that will change how leaders approach innovation by reverse engineering from a high value and focused customer job to be done. I have read it cover to cover--and will ask my top team to do the same. (Ron Frank, IBM)
[Competing Against Luck] will likely become part of the thoughtful founder’s strategy arsenal. True to its unpretentious name, jobs theory is disarmingly simple… “What job is our customer trying to accomplish?” stands as one of those great business questions that companies deploy to stimulate creative juices at the start of meetings. But Competing Against Luck doesn’t just introduce a tool, it also lays out a program. (Inc. Magazine)
The Theory of Jobs to Be Done has the essential trait of any good management theory: Once explained, it seems glaringly obvious. (Philip Delves Broughton, Wall Street Journal)
In an age of big data and hyper segmentation, Christensen’s thinking is refreshing and clarifying. This book will relieve you of tired marketing conversations and invite you into worlds of new and ultimately, defining possibilities. Competing Against Luck is a must read for anyone working on developing or sustaining a distinctive brand. (Maureen Chiquet, former CEO of Chanel and author of forthcoming Beyond the Label)
As a long-time fan of Clay Christensen, I was eager to read Competing Against Luck -- and it didn’t disappoint. This book has the potential to change the way you view innovation. Engaging and well-written, Christensen and his co-authors caused me to stop and really think about how Khan Academy is growing. I highly recommend it. (Sal Khan, Founder & CEO, Khan Academy)
From the Back Cover
How do leaders know how to grow? How can they create products that they are sure customers want to buy? Can innovation be more than a game of chance? The foremost authority on innovation and growth, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and his coauthors Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan have the answer. A generation ago, Christensen revolutionized business with his groundbreaking theory of disruption—a way to predict how competitors will respond to different types of innovation. In this book he examines the other side of the puzzle: what causes growth, and how to create it.
After years of research, Christensen, Hall, Dillon, and Duncan have come to one critical conclusion: our long-held maxim—that the crux of innovation is knowing more and more about the customer—is wrong. Customers don’t simply buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. Understanding customers does not drive innovation success, the authors argue. 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, Uber, and Airbnb to name just a few. But this book is not about celebrating these successes—it’s about predicting new ones. Christensen and his coauthors contend that by understanding what causes customers to “hire” a product or service, any manager can improve their innovation track record, creating products that customers not only want to hire, but that they’ll pay premium prices to bring into their lives. Jobs theory offers new hope for growth to companies frustrated by their hit-or-miss efforts.
This book carefully lays down the authors’ provocative framework, providing a comprehensive explanation of the theory, why it’s predictive, and, most important, how to use it to improve innovation in the real world.
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062435612
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062435613
- Best Sellers Rank: 16,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What is this Theory of Jobs Done? That is a good question. The authors huffed and puffed and do not give you a meaningful answer. They say that Jobs Done means ‘progress’. What on earth does that mean? Like all charmers, they point to all kinds of failure stories, and then attribute that to not using the Jobs to be Done Theory.
If we recast the mantra into something more concrete and practical, the Jobs to be Done Theory merely requires us to understand what we want to achieve, and then to think about how we are going to do that. Most entrepreneurs and commercial people do this. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. The con in this book is to tell us that understanding and applying the Jobs to be Done Theory is the reason for those who succeed, the reader will realise that this is a circuitous argument. To succeed you must know what your objective is and think about how you can achieve it.
They cite the failure of Proctor & Gamble when they first tried to sell cheap diapers in China. It was not popular. Why? The Jobs to be Done Theory was not used to guide them. So, what did they do? They asked questions of consumers and among those who bought, they found that one of the attractions was that the babies on diapers slept more soundly. Eureka. They advertised that and sales soared. How did the Jobs to be Done Theory help? P & G wanted to sell a lot of diapers but they did not succeed until they found a sales pitch that clicked, but the authors tell us that that was because of the Jobs Theory.
The authors are highly qualified and well-known, but they have merely repackaged common-sense and sold it as a highfalutin ‘Theory of Jobs to be Done’. If you want to understand why some things work and others don’t, read Leonard Mlodinow’s ‘The Drunkard’s Walk’.
The odds of creating exactly the right product or service to disrupt a vulnerable incumbent are probably less than 25%. Failure is expensive as it comes late in the development cycle after the investment of time, energy and money.
Best-selling author and Harvard professor Clayton Christensen provides answers and a solution in “Competing Against Luck” which comes after two decades of research where he carefully and inductively observed people who bought and sold things. What is the customer trying to do with the purchase? Why does the seller think the customer needs the product?
He found a big disconnect… and the answer to why adoption is often not achieved. He also found a solution. He urges readers to abandon the old way of framing customer’s needs and look at the customer through a new lens with one question, “What is the customer hiring the product to do? What is the job?”
“The fundamental problem is that companies accumulate masses of data that are not organized in a way that enables them to reliably predict which ideas will succeed. But none of the data tells you why customers make the choices they do."
Now with “Competing Against Luck,” Christensen offers a paradigm change, “The Jobs Theory,” that provides a new lens and a discovery mindset that will help innovators (and investors) answer one of the most important questions that has bedeviled us for decades: is innovation inherently a question of luck? With this new tool, the answer is no.
In Section 1, “An Introduction to Jobs Theory,” he defines “what is a job?” and goes on to put meat on the bone by explaining what is not a job, how can we discern a job and what are the theory’s limits.”
To understand a job, it is critical to understand what “progress” is for the customer. A job is defined “as the progress that a person is trying to make in a particular circumstance.” It’s key to why choices are made. It represents movement.
Circumstance is fundamental to finding a solution. Where are you? Who are you with? While doing what? What were you doing ½ an hour ago? What are you doing next? What social or cultural or political pressures are exerting influence?
Social and emotional needs can far outweigh any functional desires. Who will I trust to take care of my children? The old ways of organizing - centered on product attributes, customer characteristics (lifestage, financial status, etc.), trends and competitive response - are insufficient.
In contrast to what is normally baked into today’s customer research, neither product/service cost nor efficiency are a core element to defining a job. Also, Christensen notes from his research that new products succeed not because of the features and functionality they offer but because of the experiences they enable. When you enable the right experience for your customer, they will pay a premium price.
Section 2 gets at the nuts and bolts of how to apply the theory. The author challenges us to uncover jobs to be done in our own life. Look for opportunities in non-consumption, identifying workarounds, zoning in on things we do not want to do and spotting unusual uses of products.
While it is important to listen to the customer, you have to listen to hear what your customers don’t say. “Rarely can the customer articulate the requirements accurately or completely – their motivations more complex in their pathways to purchase more elaborate than they can describe. What they hire – and equally important, what they fire – tells a story.” Steve Jobs was famously known for listening to what was not said.
Southern New Hampshire University, which has become a national leader in online education, sought answers to these questions when trying to ascertain “what they were being hired to do”:
What are the experiences customers seek in order to make progress?
What obstacles must be removed?
What are the social, emotional and functional dimensions?
In Section 3, Christensen outlines how one can create a Jobs focused organization. There are many critical elements. One is metrics. What gets measured gets done. Creating the right metrics is hard but important. Companies get focused on revenue instead of delivering the customer benefit. We can consider metrics like “how much time do we save this customer? Do we improve their cash flow?” He notes that Amazon focuses on when orders are delivered not when they are shipped.
He goes on to note the problems of the old frame. Engineers and operators have focused on the product specification rather than the “job specification.” As a result, the organization has overweighted the value of its technology and underweighted the downstream applications of that technology to solve customer problems that enable their desired progress.
There is a lot in “Competing Against Luck” to unpack. Just keep in mind that Christensen’s Jobs Theory was developed not to explain past successes but to help us increase the predictability of new ones. Identifying and understanding the job is only the beginning. Having empathy for the customer so we can create the right set of experiences in solving the job- is the key. It is easier for competitors to copy products but it is difficult for them to copy experiences that are well integrated into your offering.
Should you buy this book?…that depends on the progress you seek and the job that needs to be done. By digging in and applying this new lens, you can cede luck to your competitors and leave them in the dust.
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