Is Your App Best for the Job?

Customers install your app hoping to complete a task to achieve a desired outcome. Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen describes this as a Job to be Done in his book, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.1 He defines the Job to be Done as the “progress that a person is trying to do in a particular circumstance.” This approach directs your focus away from your app features and the underlying technologies to an understanding of why customers would hire your app to do a job and deliver the desired outcome.
As Christensen share his Jobs to be Done theory, he raises questions that can be adapted to help retailers determine whether their app is best for the job. As an exercise, assemble your app team and work through these questions to build your understanding of customers to ensure they will hire your app for the Job to be Done.

  • What progress is the customer trying to achieve? How do they measure progress?
  • What are the functional, social and emotional dimensions of the desired progress?
  • What are the circumstances of their struggle? Who, when, where, while doing what?
  • What barriers are preventing customers from making their desired progress?
  • Are customers making do with imperfect solutions through some kind of compensating behavior?
  • How would customers define what “quality” means for a better solution, and what tradeoffs are they willing to make? Speed? Number of steps? Higher cost?
  • Are customers buying and using a solution that imperfectly performs the job?
  • How will customers know your solution is available? How can you demonstrate that your app will best do the job?
  • Is the customer cobbling together a workaround solution involving multiple products or services? Can your app provide a single platform to do the job?
  • Are customers doing anything to solve their dilemma?
  • Do you understand the real reason why your customers choose your app or why they chose something else? A manual solution? Maintain the status quo?
  • How does your app help customers make progress in their lives? In which circumstances will your app help them make that progress?
  • What are the experiences customers seek in order to make progress? Can you deliver that experience better than the alternatives?
  • What is competing with your app to address the job to be done? Are there competitors outside of those included in the traditional view of your industry? A digital disruptor?
  • What does your understanding of your customers’ job to be done reveal about the real competition your app is facing?
  • Who is not using your app today? What’s getting in the way of non-customers from using your app? How do their jobs differ from those of your current customers?
  • What solution do customers have to fire so they can hire your app? Do you offer enough improvement to motivate them to fire their current solution?

With the new understanding of your customers gained by working through these questions, is your app best for the job? If it’s not, how could you change your app so it is?
If you would like to learn more or discuss your answers to these questions, including what happens after you answer these questions, you can reach out to Kevin Struthers at [email protected].
1Christensen, Clayton M., et al. Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer   Choice (Kindle Edition). New York: HarperBusiness, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.

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