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Competing Against Luck

·3 mins

What comes to your mind when you think of innovation? Does the microwave come to mind - a chocolate bar accidentally melting in the pocket of scientist? What if innovation isn’t a random process and can be studied, understood and applied time and again? That’s the premise of this book.

Customers don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want quarter-inch hole. They don’t buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job, and carefully understanding customers jobs leads to innovation success. This book was really insightful for me, and you’ll enjoy reading it took if you own a business or run a startup.

I took some interesting notes from this book:

  • Predicting innovation becomes more feasible when one comprehends the influencing factors behind consumers’ choices.
  • If a company lacks an understanding of why a customer selects its product in specific situations, or opts for alternatives in different circumstances, its customer data is unlikely to contribute to innovative solutions.
  • Products are not merely purchased; they are hired to address crucial, unmet needs that arise in a customer’s life under specific circumstances.
  • The customer’s situation is pivotal in defining a job and finding a suitable solution for it.
  • Jobs have functional, social, and emotional dimensions that significantly impact customer choices.
  • A job represents the progress an individual seeks in a given circumstance. Successful innovations facilitate desired progress, address struggles, and fulfill unmet aspirations, often in situations where no adequate solutions exist. Jobs also have social and emotional components and are highly context-specific.
  • Job insights are akin to narratives rather than mere statistics, resisting easy breakdown into spreadsheet data. Jobs theory focuses on understanding the “why” rather than the attributes of a customer.
  • To capture a job effectively, envision creating a mini-documentary of a person facing challenges in a specific circumstance. This video should outline the desired progress’s functional, social, and emotional dimensions, the circumstances of the struggle, obstacles hindering progress, whether customers settle for imperfect solutions, and their definition of quality for a better solution.
  • Competitive advantage is established by comprehending customer jobs, delivering sought-after experiences in purchasing and product/service use, and implementing internal processes to consistently provide these experiences—a factor competitors find challenging to replicate.
  • Uncovering customer jobs involves observing jobs in one’s own life and identifying opportunities in non-consumption.
  • Successful resolution of a customer’s job requires fully integrating the right set of experiences, making it difficult for competitors to emulate, as they often only see the product.
  • Understanding a customer’s job involves creating a job spec that encompasses functional, emotional, and social dimensions defining desired progress, as well as the trade-offs customers are willing to make. The job spec becomes an actionable guide for innovation.
  • People do not want to purchase a quarter-inch drill; they seek a quarter-inch hole. Customers don’t care about products but they care about solving their jobs.