Bob discusses some of the ways JTBD is being applied as a tool to understand what stakeholders are trying to achieve and how you can help them with their goals.
Customers, prospects, and employees all engage with your company to meet their own objectives. Sharing examples from product, sales, marketing and hiring, Bob shows you how JTBD helps you define what they’re trying to achieve and help them make the progress they desire. Whether you want to hire and retain better talent; build and scale a more effective sales operation; or deliver profitable products people will buy; you will understand your next steps.
Thank you. Thank you, Mark. Amazing. So, as Mark had talked, he, we talked yesterday, Clay is up in heaven smiling today; he passed away almost two years or a little over two years ago. But this was something he wanted to do very early on. And so we’re unable to do it while he was alive. But the thing is, is that I know that he’s wanted to do this for a long time. And despite that there are differences between our approaches. The reality is, is we’re all about one, starting with the customer understanding where progress means, what are the outcomes that people want, there’s a lot more commonality than there are differences compared to other like kind of taking it from personas. And so to me, this is a very unique opportunity to kind of get to see not only the common elements around all of us, but also to see the subtleties of how we approach it a little bit differently.
Mark has timed me very well, I’ve been able to cut things back. But I wanted to actually kind of use this time to talk about kind of applications of jobs to be done across the business- we have an amazing set of speakers are going to talk about it for product and for marketing, but I want to talk about it in almost like the the other corners of the business where people can use it – or I’ve been using it – and to share kind of some of the latest thinking of it, doing of it and applying it to sales, applying it to kind of HR and kind of finding a career path. And the last one is really kind of breaking it down to the foundational pieces. Right?
So I got 45 minutes and 15 minutes of q&a. I suggest that we put the q&a in and if there’s stuff that comes up and there’s questions that are going through it, you can interrupt me I prefer to answer the questions in context, again, in a job to done way because context creates the value. We’re going to do two minutes on me, I’m going to do eight minutes or less on basically review the foundation kind of assuming most people already know what jobs are, but I want to make sure we have the language. And we understand cause Tony and Alan are going to kind of go across their foundation. So I want this to understand kind of what they are and kind of language differences. But then I want to talk about it for sales and talk about it more of a case study than anything else around it. And then I want to talk about how I’ve been helping companies with this I’ll say talent war and kind of how to actually understand what’s going on, but also how to actually kind of some approaches to fix this problem, if you will. And then if we have time, I have bonus of the five skills, which is a new book I have coming out that’s in the end in July. And so and then we’ll have 15 minutes for q&a.
Um, little bit about me, you guys all know, I’m an engineer from Detroit. I’ve been doing jobs to be done for almost 30 years. But I think it really is all a combination of building for me from from my mentors. Most of you know that I’m dyslexic, had three close head brain injuries. And so coming out of school, I was told I would be a baggage handler. But these four people poured into me their knowledge and skills and helped me develop the skills to go innovate on 3500 products. Things like Basecamp, and MailChimp, and inner common huddle and, you know, Pokemon mac and cheese in the spatial domain. I pinch myself to understand like, I’m almost 60 now. And it’s one of those things like all these crazy things I’ve worked at, right?
Today, amazing, I’m so happy to have this collection of people together and being able to talk through kind of different applications and seeing it from different perspectives and being able to, you know, I’m so excited for Matt’s session, I can’t wait to sit in it because Matt is a master at helping people with the website and being able to use the the lenses of jobs to basically help kind of hone and refine the page. So it’s gonna be it’s gonna be an amazing session.
Basics. Let’s just take a second and talk through the basics. I think to me, the single biggest quote that helped me understand jobs or helped me kind of codify is when Clay said the thing
questions creates spaces in the brain for solutions to fall into.
And that whole aspect of being able to say, you know, at some point, what question Does somebody have to ask themselves to say, Today’s the day I need to buy your product?
How do we actually understand the space that people create for new products?
And so this is kind of at the core of to me for jobs, is this whole notion of how do we actually understand the space that people create for new products? And how do we actually understand that through us guessing questions, right. Basic premises, people don’t buy products, they hire them to do a job in their life. And that that’s this comes from the premise that there’s not only the progress that somebody wants to make, but it’s the circumstance that they’re in and the outcomes that they want together that define the value. And that trying to define it irrelevant of how I want to get across that river because there’s 22 ways or I’ll say Oh, Over 100 ways I can get across that river. But if I can actually come up with a way to frame the need from both the situation they’re in and the outcome that they want, I can then come up with many, many different ways as opposed to one way. And most customers don’t know what they want. The other aspect is this polarisation of you will have between the supply side and the demand side and that, that for me, I grew up on the supply side of the world. And the lie that I was told is, it’s actually one of my favourite movies from it’s called. It’s the one with Kevin Costner where he builds a baseball field, Field of Dreams.
And so this is what I was taught in engineering school. But this is what I was told build it and they will come. And to be honest, every time I build a product and try to find it, then I have to go find customers. And so ultimately, I spend more time trying to find customers than actually, if I understood what they were people struggle, it was easy to then fill the technology or a hole into that. And so you start to realise that being able to understand this demand side of the world, and understand kind of what are the struggling moments? What are the desired outcomes? What are their requirements for the progress they’re trying to make? It actually makes it way easier to build a product. And so part of this is to realise that instead of trying to go, if you will, left to right, how do we actually understand demand and go? Right to Left?
The other part is that that in my version of this, this is about actually understanding the forces that are at play the things that push people, the things that pull people, but also the frictional coefficients around kind of what are the anxieties? And what are the habits and that we look at this, we look at the demand side as a system and understanding kind of what are the things that promote, basically a new choice, and one of the things that hinder or kind of create that friction. And by understanding that notion of how people make progress, not what they make progress with, but how they do it, that will actually then help us understand kind of how to position our product in the boundaries around it. And the last part is really this whole notion of, of the timeline, which is is really gets to cause and effect and that there are phases and that there are dominoes, there’s things that have to happen in a sequence for people to buy something, they just don’t randomly buy something. And so part of it is to actually understand what how did they get the first thought passive looking/active looking/deciding? What are the things that happen to people to finally say, Today’s the day they’re gonna do something new, right? So I want to take that foundation and really start to think about how it applies to sales. And I’ve talked about this a little bit before, but I want to make sure that we hone this because I’ve been now working with a handful of companies over the last year on this, and it’s kind of amazing stuff.
Why don’t they teach sales in business school?
So, in 2010, I had luxury of having four hours a quarter for 27 years with Clay and well in 2010. One of the questions I brought to the table was like Why don’t they teach sales in business school? Like I there is no, I’ve never seen a sales professor in sales. And he goes, that’s a really interesting question. And as you pull the thread, the fact is, is that sales was seen as more about products and psychology. And it’s almost like a trade that it is about kind of the skills of a manager. And to me, that’s one of the things that really kind of pushed me to do this book. But Clay brought back a quote from from Drucker, which was from 1950. And that I just, it resonates so close to me is that people, people in business think they know about the market but why they think people are buying is rarely what the real reasons why customers buy products. And so it’s this disconnect between what we think we’re selling and what they think they’re buying, and ultimately, how do we actually make sales less about a process and more about helping them make progress? And that’s the thread we really pull.
And that the real feeling that I got was that most people are running sales, like it’s a numbers game, like it’s, it’s random. And so if you just get, you know, so many leads, and we get this many conversion, it’s like how do we build the equation for sales. And it’s, it’s not about how people buy but it’s more the almost like the dynamics of something and to me, like, I don’t believe anything’s random, I believe everything is cause, it’s just that we can’t see all the causation. And so it’s worth diving in to understand what are the things that cause people to buy? And what progress are they trying to make and understand it that way. And so to me, it’s it’s switching from this notion of that sales is all about numbers and about almost like a random number generator to basically how do we actually see it from a causal perspective?
And so when you go to look at this from the supply side to the demand side, you start to realise that if you’re selling from the supply side, it’s talking about our product and its features and benefits, and ultimately, what we end up doing is say, well, what if we actually reframed it from the, to the progress that people want to make? And the big shift to me was this notion of I went from what, to who, when, where, why, how, and how much to actually, if I actually understand the progress, who, when, where, and why will actually help me determine what, how and how much. And so part of this is, by changing the equation just a little bit and understanding the progress people want to make, it’s actually going to help me to help them help me understand how, what progress I can help them make. And so it’s changing the reference point, which is pretty interesting.
So the first thing is, is is, if we take this is, is we most people have a sales funnel. But the other thing is that that on the on the customer side, they have a buying funnel, if you will have a buying process. And so what we did is we took the timeline, and just turned it into a process and said, like, what are the things that basically for somebody to buy our product? When do they get first thought and how do they get first thought? Right? And so the interesting part is that, to me first thought is one of those things where it’s about making the space, how do we actually get people to notice? And ultimately there’s only four ways to help people make space:
- Ask them a question, and don’t answer it.
- Tell them a story that they can resonate with,
- Give them a new metric
- State the obvious that makes them realise that they haven’t been able to articulate before.
And it’s one of those things that makes it sit with them to realise they have a problem. And it’s not about the solution. It’s usually about the struggling moment that they have of some sort. So for example, a question I asked my father in law the other day was, why is the TV so loud? And I’m trying to make the space for him to realise that he probably needs hearing aids. And so how do we actually understand the questions we have to ask. And then the other part is to realise that passive looking is about learning. And most of the time, this is where their language is the problem language first, and they’re actually exploring what is the solution language. So if we start talking about a CRM, and we start talking about a note taker, or we talked about any of the software solution, this is where people in passive looking actually start to learn about what the solutions are. But more times than not, they actually only know the problem, they don’t know the solution. And then active looking is about basically seeing possibilities. And in most cases is like, oh, I want this, I want this, I want this, I was think of it as a kid in a candy store. But ultimately, it gets back to being able to make trade offs and be able to make a decision to move forward. And a lot of times, what you start to realise is by us trying to only giving people one thing, we end up actually kind of screwing things up because they most time they can’t make a decision, or we end up lowering our prices, so they can make a decision. And there’s different things we’ve learned that here that are so powerful that say instead of giving them one proposal, we’ve been working on giving them three ways to do it either if we can do it faster, we can do it a little slower, different ways to do it. But that helps them eliminate so they can actually decide what they really what progress they really want to make. And then ultimately, how do we actually determine metrics to do that?
So the interesting part is that when you really start to look at the sales funnel, it is a supply side concept. It’s how we want to sell. And it to be honest, I have the underlying belief that in most companies, the sales process isn’t run by sales, it’s run by marketing. And I call it the church of finance. Because at some point in time, why in the world, can I only offer a discount at the end of the quarter? Well, it’s primarily because finance would say, Oh, we’re going to not meet our numbers or that we over predicted or we actually have some problem. But short of that we can’t actually do those things. And if we would have waited three more days, we might be able to get the full price. But we don’t want to actually give the wrong numbers to the investors. And the other part, though, is to realise that, that what we want is that this, this notion of the demand side is really about how they make progress. And it’s not a funnel, because I could get all the way down to deciding and then something happens in my context. And I go backwards to passive looking. And so what we’ve been doing with companies is actually modifying their sales funnel to actually say, how do we actually understand where people are on their buying timeline?
What do you struggle with the most?
So let’s you know, so let me give you a quick example. This is Steve Robert from autobooks. He’s a FinTech based in Detroit. And, you know, basically what they do is they help small businesses get paid. And it’s really adding basically a set of software and features to a bank to big to a fairly large or large banks to help them actually get paid using credit card without having to have a terminal and being able to do it all through SMS. So they’re adding these things to be able to think of people who are like painters. And I’ll say a very, very simple small businesses that have most of their money like in Paypal, or they’re using square, they’re using these other things. And what auto books is doing is helping them actually kind of do this. So their bank, so one, they can have their money faster. But also, the fact is, the bank can actually start to keep track of the books for the company. And the head of product for that company is one of my co founders, Chris Beck. And there’s two really important people, Kyle, who is VP of sales, and Derek who’s the VP of marketing. And as I started to advise this, these guys, I went to Kyle and basically asked him so like, you know, how can I help?
I said, What do you struggle with, you know, the most? And he took a minute, and he really took a step back and says, you know, it’s the demo, like, We’re redoing this demo every time and it doesn’t seem to fit. And it’s like, you know, with every 90 days, we’re working on it. And it’s like, we’ll get together and it gets better. But then it gets worse. And it’s like, we don’t we can’t feel how we need to get the demo, right.
I’m like, Okay, well, let’s let’s talk about the demo. And so they started to lay out his the process by which they kind of get to a demo, which is they advertise, get a landing page, email campaign, to basically book a meeting. And it’s about basically all about getting the demos. And, and the demo is okay, we’re gonna do the demo. And we’re trying to close. And ultimately, they just have this frustration, and they keep going round and round. And so as we as we look at it, basically I said that, well, let’s think about who’s timeline. This is like, so you’re doing the demo where you think they’re deciding, but where are they? And he looked at me like, What do you mean, where are they? I said, well, they don’t, are they actually in passive looking? If they’re passive looking at the demo, I want to passive looking, it’s helped me learn, and I want it to be small group, because I don’t really know. And it’s, it’s something I really should do or not do.
And it’s like, oh, okay, well, we’re always trying to make him be a full cross functional and making his life he can’t do a big one. And they can’t make a decision, like, Okay, but what if they’re an active looking, he goes, Oh, that’s usually a bigger team. And that’s where they want everything they want hear everything, and everybody wants to bring up objections and what else you can do. And they’re comparing features to features and like, okay, so this is where you want to so all the things you could do so that the first demo is about helping them learn. The second was about actually helping them see all the possibilities, and they’re very different demos. Like, yeah, that makes sense. And then I said, Well, what does it look like to do a demo at deciding? Oh, that’s where they’re making trade offs. Like, we’ll do this, we’ll do that they’re making sure it doesn’t break their system. There’s all these other pieces of like, there’s really three different demos you need, but you need to know where they’re at.
So what we did is we actually took the time, and we started to actually break the demos into three different demos and asking people where they were on their timeline. And the customer would say, What do you mean, I’m like, Well, are you just looking trying to figure this out? Or is this like, you know, you’ve made a commitment, and you got to do something, but you don’t know what to buy? Or is this like, you’re in the middle of deciding. And as they would go through that, they can then figure out basically, which demo they needed and where. And as people move through it what what was interesting is the counterpart, Derek was what he was a marketer basically was building these things out. And what he realised is, is if they weren’t almost ready to beg for that next demo, after, say, the passive looking demo, there was never going to be enough energy for people to close. And so what they started to realise is how to tell them what things had to happen in the bank, for them to say today’s the day that they need to do it like so if you so for example, it seemed like everybody would always use to say, you know, I’ll call you back in 90 days to see if anything’s changed. And instead, now we say it’s like, Look, if your bank decides to strategically focus on small business, this is when we can help you. The other one is if you need to actually increase deposits, this can help you. And so you start to realise that at some point, by understanding the causation of what causes people to buy, you can then leave them with what has to happen on their side for them to value you.
And so what ends up happening is that the way we have the process set up now is that as a bad prospect comes in, we figure out which job it’s in. There’s a vetting process around the questions and understanding what it is. And then what we do is basically not only which job are they, and where are they in their timeline, and then we focus on helping them go from from passive looking to active, active to deciding, or wherever they’re at to get them to be this. And so in most cases, we’re using the forces diagram as what are the what are the things that are pushing people so in, in Salesforce, we’re actually recording what’s pushing them, what’s pulling them, what’s anxieties they have, what’s habits they have to give up and where they are. So the salespeople can help manage people through the process of buying as opposed to where they are in a sales process. The interesting part is you’d say, well, instead of doing one demo now we got to do three demos, and what’s interesting is that I thought that we had some resistance from the salespeople, but they actually liked it because it forced them to be able to ask more questions and that gave them a reason to say which demo do you want, and out of that, they’re able to actually help them figure that out.
And so that, you know, the traditional view of marketing sales was basically there would be marketing that would get the leads in, and then sales would take over active looking, deciding customer success. But what we’ve done is we’ve actually figured out how marketing has to be part of the entire process, and how sales have to be part of the entire process. And that the friction that we end up usually having between two organisations, or between marketing and sales, or sales and customer success goes away when we focus on being able to understand where they’re at, and how does Customer Success help us set the right expectations in first thought, or in terms of being able to understand how to help and passive looking, and you start to realise that these are actually one system, not three separate systems, and that the metrics we have to come up with are very, very different than what we traditionally would have in an handoff system.
And so 12 months later, 3x On lead conversion. So, you know, at some point in time they had basically the conversion rate of x is now three times that. The interesting thing is, though they have more demos, the fact is, is that they’ve been able to actually help people make decisions faster. And so they’ve halved almost the time from lead to close with way more interaction and way more purpose behind it.
The other is a bonus that the programme performance at the bank, when they launched, it is way more successful and faster. And it’s less work on the back end for for autobooks to actually kind of onboard and get everybody going. And so what the ultimate result is 6x in bank partners in the last 12 months, 9x in small business users and 5x in revenue. And they would attribute that back to the whole notion of basically being able to rethink their sales force. And to be honest, they’ve only grown like almost 3x in employees. And so as they’re growing, they’re scaling. But the fact is, is they’ve been able to scale sales in a very different way than usual. And at the same time, they’ve been able to get sales, marketing and customer success to work much closer together, which then enables all of them to actually help each other. Kind of amazing, and Steve is now smiling, as Steve always smiles.
Questions or comments on that?
Jobs to be done and applying it to HR
So the next thing is really I want to talk about applying jobs to be done to your career in HR.
This is one of those things where I started about five years ago, when I started to talk to people about, you know, people who left their job and went to a new company and say well why leave the old job? And you know, what were you hoping for the new job? I mean, it’s one of those things that when you get affected with this, it’s hard to unsee it. And it’s that genuine curiosity. And so, you know, you know, today, it’s kind of amazing, like, what’s going on is how many people are dealing with this talent problem. Like how many people have resignations, and people half in and and have churned and it’s impossible to find people that are going to just have people raise hands. How many people have any of that going on? Anybody? Yeah.
It’s crazy. And so I worked at Ford. And one of the things that for that was so interesting is I would get have a performance review. And my performance review would always tell me more about what I sucked that and what I need to get better at, than telling me the progress that I’ve made. And so every time I come out of a performance review, it’d be like you’re good at these things. But we need to work on this. And it will always be the stuff that I like, I need to get better at spelling, I need better communication. I’m like, Oh my gosh. And I start to realise that a lot of times we end up basically trying to create people to be the perfect of everything, as opposed to leveraging for their strengths.
So here in the US, we had four and a half million people in March quit their job. Four and a half million people which is is almost like 5x what it usually is. And we had 11 and a half million openings. And so this is where we started to look at this and you ask people how they get their next job and you get this notion of like, Oh, I got so lucky or you know, it’s just one of those things where it’s like they feel like every way they get the next job, it’s so, so random, if you will, right. And other people go like, I wanted a job, and then it realised I need to get out. And then it’s like, Okay, I’m gonna send 1000 emails out. And then finally, they’ve somebody actually, you know, calls back, and then they go through an interview process. And you start to realise, and this is pre pandemic, all the way through the pandemic, and you start to realise that, what the pandemic did is, it really helped people take inventory of time and realise what they really wanted to do and what was a waste of their time, and being able to kind of value things in a very different way.
And so you start to realise that this is going on more and more and more, and it was happening before the pandemic, but obviously, it’s accelerated way past it. And so we peel back this onion, and one of the conclusions we came to is that job hunting feels like house hunting. If you look at a job description, like it’s a, like a real estate listing, it’s like, okay, it’s 2100 square feet, it’s two bedroom, three bath, and, you know, they can give you the structure of the house, but like, you have no idea what it’s like to live there, right to live in the house to live in that neighbourhood – where’s the schools where’s the grocery store? So it’s this notion of the static set of pictures that try to help us understand this dynamic thing. And you start to realise that the language is just all wrong. And that most people look through things and the way that the job descriptions are written it’s not about actually helping people figure out it’s more about like, these are the requirements that we have to … it’s like people trying to think of a product and give you all the requirements and say, Alright, now, what product feels this requirements, right?
So for the last five years, I’ve been basically understanding and just interviewing, hundreds of people have why they left one company to go to a new company, or why they went from one position to another whether it was a promotion or a lateral or in some cases, some people who took demotions on purpose, and it would be like, Well, how was that really, you know, it’s like, at some point, it seems very irrational until you wrap the context around it.
I’ll say I’m, by far the oldest person here, and one of the things we would say is that the way I grew up, as you were told about progression is that you become a manager, then become a senior manager, then you become a director, then you’re gonna be senior director, then you’d be and there’s this linear path. And what’s happened over the last 30 years is it’s looked more like this, where everybody’s in different places, not only along their career, but along their life. And that what you wanted, when you were 30 is different when what you want when you’re 35, in that context actually drives kind of a lot of the decisions and trade offs you’re willing to make.
And what was fun was was to start to look at let’s look at what happens when people change. And, and there’s a job description that has to be created, there’s a resume that has to be created, and then there’s a process that helps people kind of get through it. And when you start to dive in and peel that onion, again, back and forth, it becomes very fascinating. If you look at the job description, it’s somebody said statuses like what do we need somebody to do in this job? And there’s their statements like, Well, it’d be good if they had five years experience. And you know, they need to know Python, and they need to know how to do front end design, and it’s very high level stuff. And then we will ask other people, and we look what other people do. And then we try to untangle that whole thing and put it back to some linear set of requirements. That gets us to a, you know, a job description, right?
The interesting part is, when you look at that job description, it actually looks more like a unicorn than anything else, tried to find somebody, basically, who is like, it’s almost like the ideal person has all these traits, but nobody fits it. And we don’t know how to actually manage the trade offs of it. And we ended up trying to keep churning through people as opposed to try to figure out how to get past it.
The other part is, what’s so interesting is you start to look at the resume. And the resume is like you go through your career, and you have all these ups and downs and different things and you boil it down into a resume that basically says here’s, you know, what I can do, but that resume, you know, usually it starts to make you look like Wonder Woman. And so and it’s all these things you can get done, and all these things you’ve done in the past, and it’s about all the heroic things. And the reality is like, you know, I didn’t grow sales, we grew sales, it was a team effort to grow sales. And so part of this is to realise it’s building these these images of ourselves so we can get hired. And so then what happens is I take the unicorn and I take it take wonder women, and I put them together, and then I figure out whether I can accept or decline. And what happens is what we haven’t figured out is the trade offs we’re willing to make. And at some point, to be honest, it reminds me of this whole notion of product market fit. How do I actually start to think about careers as a product market fit problem? And do I actually have to adjust the job description to basically make sure it helps people do their best work?
And so what happens is, it’s now it becomes a two sided problem, in my opinion. And what we do know is that, when the work is designed around the people in their talent, and we find really good person job fit, it literally has so much productivity and so much happiness and progress in it, people are happier, they work harder, they’re more tied to what they want to do. And so being able to understand how we actually design for progress and enable the work to be empowering to people, becomes a really interesting angle to flip the lens. Right. And so, one of the conclusions we came to is the old paradigm is that companies hire employees, but the reality is, is that employees hire companies, and that, that we go from basically the company, and how do I fill the job to what’s the employee and the progress they want to make? And when you start to reference that thing, and you start to realise, like, we’re not looking for perfect fit, but we’re looking for this notion of the dynamic of progress. And how do people make progress? And as they make progress, they’ll help us make progress.
And so we apply this. Ethan Bernstein and Michael Horn and myself have basically been applying this, Ethan’s been teaching elements of this kind of process for almost 10 years. And we’ve kind of collaborated all of our expertise around this topic, and we’re writing a new book called Hire your next job. And it’s really about trying to provide the frameworks and the tools to help employees get clear on what they want, what’s the outcomes they’re really seeking? And what are the context that they’re in? And what are the trade offs are willing to make to get there.
So if you really start to look at what’s so interesting, and if we’ve done hundreds of interviews, and you start to see that there are these pushes. And what’s so interesting to me is like, so if you read down that list, there’s things like, you know, I feel like I’m not challenged, I feel that there’s, there’s ones there that are like, I feel disrespected, right, or I don’t respect the people I work with, right. And, and what we’ve learned is that if any four of those are checked, that person is has almost like an 85% probability that they’re gonna look for a job in the next six weeks. And so part of this is to realise, the notion of where people are, and what’s happened is because there are more jobs than there are more more jobs and people is that this threshold is getting lower.
But the moment that these pushes start to come about, they start to actually then create, what are the things they want? And you start to realise that the questions that we want to ask and so we’ve done some work with companies where you realise, like we’ve been giving offers, but nobody’s taking that, like, you know, our yield is like, you know, 20%, so we went and interviewed people who basically went through the interview process, you know, basically got an offer and declined it. And it turns out that, you know, they weren’t actually helping them understand the real work they were going to do, they didn’t know the people they were going to work with, they didn’t understand. And what they want is they want to know the team, they want to know the problem, they don’t want to know they’re gonna be challenged. And so what happens most of the interview processes are about the supply side, not the demand side. And so as we change the interviewing process, and to make it more oriented towards them, we’ve been able to actually increase that yield by almost double.
And so as we chip away at it, but knowing this is kind of amazing. And the other part is, we start to realise that there are patterns that are jobs, the jobs have jobs. And so part of this is to be able to understand how do we understand when we’re trying to change jobs which job are we in? And what progress are we really trying to make? So we can give some guidance, right? So it’s, it turns out that the fact is, the supply side is really kind of about trying to find a job opening and actually getting better job descriptions. And the other part is, how do we actually actually get people to understand the progress we’re really trying to make as they go through this job.
Unpacking the skills needed to be successful.
And so what we want to do is, is what we have been doing is basically working on better job descriptions that represent the progress of what the company wants to make, and that we’re willing to help the employee make right, and unpacking it to cause a language. What are they going to do? What’s the skills we need them to have, as opposed to, you know, when you say, Oh, they need five years experience? And I have to tell you is a painstaking afternoon of four hours to unpack why in the world do people want five years experience because I might be able to find somebody who has three years experience who has all the skills, and we end up moving past them. And so it’s thinking about unpacking those requirements to as opposed to leaving them at very absolute of you need to know these languages, you need to be this proficient in this. There are certain standards you have to have, but there are other things that are so abstract that they don’t make sense, right.
The other part is the trade offs are willing to make like in sales, I’m willing to actually take somebody who actually knows how to sell and teach them technical and take somebody who’s technical and try to teach them sales. And so part is actually understand clearly the trade offs you’re willing to make and where it lies.
On the candidate side, though, it’s basically a job that leverage their strengths and minimises their weaknesses. Talking about energy drivers and energy drains. There’s things where it helps me grow and make progress in and out of work. So it’s more of a holistic view of before I could work, you know, 80 hours a week, but now I have a family and I have other obligations. How do I actually be as productive, but not necessarily have to work so many hours, and it thinks about me as a whole as a person. And so part of this is that this then creates this opportunity. And so we’ve we’re working on this process over here to help people understand the progress, they want to work, the deep understanding of the self and the journey and where they want to go the who, when, where, and why. And over here, it’s about actually making better job descriptions so people can understand the experience of what progress they can make by being in that position, and then building a matching system that helps the two.
So this first book really starts to focus on this side and begins to tap on the side. But I’m in the midst of actually working right now I have three companies, I’m looking for three more that really helped kind of understand the best way to do this. I’ve done it both in technical and non technical, almost blue collar as well as software as well as executive. And it’s so interesting to understand how we have to actually change the way we actually write these job descriptions.
So part one is really about the employee side, which is about what should I do next? And it’s taking the time to understand why do you want to change why now? It’s looking backwards and looking forwards, but it’s doing an inventory of skills, it’s not an assessment. But as I always say, there’s things that I do that I love to do, and to be honest, don’t even feel like work. And there’s other things that I have to do. And they literally are like watching paint dry. And being able to understand that about me. And what resonates with me is really, really important. So I can actually design the work that I want to do better, and then it’s unpacking it down to causation.
The interesting part is we’ve added a process where we then have people do two rounds of prototypes. One is to take their career as they think about it and go broad. So they actually can use contrast to create meaning, where they would look at almost career paths or positions that they wouldn’t actually think about, but understand how it fits to their criteria. And then ultimately go interview people who have that job as opposed to the fantasy of what they think that job is. And then ultimately iterate and prototype to get down to kind of here’s the kinds of things I want to go apply for, which ultimately gets me to my resume.
And then we’ve taken almost 1000 people through this process, we have a we have a cohort system going in the fall for those people who are interested, we will get we’ll get a link for the signup on that. But but for the most part, it’s been helping people kind of realise that what is your career path? And how do you manage it? And how do you decide where you want to go next? And what does progress mean for you?
A really good example is we the processes, we basically had this person, Jane, who basically worked for a very large corporation, and the company was relocating them to a different city, and they decided not to go. And so they’re in the midst of deciding where they want to go and what they want to do, because they didn’t want to, they wanted to move the corporate headquarters as well as have kind of people not work remotely. And this was in the middle of the pandemic, to be honest. And so the first thing we did is we did an inventory of what are the energy drivers and energy drains? What are the things that they went through? And what things really drove them crazy what things basically did, they literally love to do? And as we pull those themes out of what they love to do, and what drove them crazy, we unpacked it to what is it more about? What is it less about? What are some examples of where that happens?
And after doing that, then what we do is we benchmark, we benchmark the last three or four jobs that they’ve had, or then this person has sort of went a little they went back want to say at least eight jobs, nine jobs. And so what they are able to see by doing it this way is they can actually see the trade offs they had to make of this job was really good on this dimension, but not really good on that dimension. And so it allows them to think about it. And then what happens is we basically went and start to prototype new possibilities. And they they basically take these areas and they go find people who have jobs that are like these other things they have and they go interview them and say what’s it like to do this work? What’s it like to be a product manager? What’s it like to be a founder, what’s it like to be, you know, a marketing director, and it’s not about actually going in finding the job, but it’s more about understanding the reality of that job. The cool part to me, is that notion of when people come back and there’s this fantasy of what they think the job is and the reality of what the job is, and that they’re bouncing this conversation against their criteria, so they actually can start to understand what’s right. So this part of it is actually helping them not only see possibilities, but it’s also about helping them understand their dimension so they can actually start to weigh them and build criteria.
And so we end up with basically ‘here are different positions that they could take’, ‘here are things/the dimensions that are important to them’, and ‘here’s a weighting to them’. So they can start to score opportunities that then start to realise where they want to go and what they want to do. And what happened with Jane was kind of amazing as they went through the process, they went back to their company and said, Well, look, I really love to do this, I really like to do that, there’s these other positions I could take. And as they as they actually started to look at two or three positions where they could stay but work remotely, they actually ended up creating a position for them. And one of the things that was so important to Jane was the fact that what what she did is she wanted to volunteer more. And she felt like she couldn’t volunteer enough because of the way the position was. But she, as she worked for the corporation, she basically said, like, I know we have a not for profit, what I’d like to do is make sure that I can dedicate two days of my months worth of time to the not for profit with my talents and skills. And the company said, Of course, nobody said no to that and said, I also want to learn this and this and this in this other industry. And of course and so what we did is we actually taught them how to go and negotiate and figure out the things that will help them make progress, as opposed to how to just get that job. And ultimately, this person is thriving. And to be honest they’re replicating this process inside that company right now.
But part of it is to realise the more I can actually understand the progress I want to make, the better decisions I can make and to realise to manage the trade offs I wanted to do.
The second part of this is really helping employers basically dive into the work. And you start to realise that the work has been designed in a way that we’ve just kept adding things, I need somebody who’s a strategic thinker that basically knows design, and then I need somebody who also can build a budget and hold people accountable and do project management. And you’re like, Okay, you start to realise, like that person doesn’t exist, they’re either good at one or they’re good at the other. But you need to find the one person who’s good at both of them, you end up trading off, and you end up with nothing. And so part of this is taking a deep dive into the work and understand the outputs and tasks and the outcomes and really what they’re trying to do, and being very going from the abstract to very, very concrete. And the more you can actually get concrete you can then understand how to articulate the progress that these people their employees will make when they come and ultimately weighing the trade offs of like this job is going to be this position over that position and ultimately progress.
So in autobooks I’ve been doing, we’ve been working on this, and Chris Spec, who’s one of my co founders there, he basically was, as he’s interviewing for people for products, he realised that this person just came from basically a startup, they started a family and, you know, they’re in a startup mode, and though this person was a perfect fit, technically, the reality is that the the environment that they were going into was almost the environment they wanted to leave. And so Chris actually interviewed somebody and said, Yeah, I don’t think we’re fit. But He then found two other companies that they were a perfect fit for, and enable them to actually go to that company. And so as they’re interviewing, they start to realise, like, how do I actually help other people, because you just don’t know when they might come back, or where they will help where they might fit in a different position.
And so, I’ve done this in like five different cases. And it’s been one of those things where by splitting jobs, or redesigning the work to actually fit for, where there were like maybe 50 people who could do that job where now there’s 1000, people who can do that job is kind of amazing when you start to realise how you actually pull that thing back and being able to come up with job descriptions. So I just want to put this little thing out there to say, look, I’m looking for new companies, to actually who are struggling with this and want to actually dive in and do this. And so I’m looking for two to three over the next six months to be candidates to basically write into our book about this. So if you’re interested, I’ll put the link in the in the chat at the end, and you can fill out the form and we’ll reach out.
35 years in notebooks my youngest just graduated from college. Yes, I’m a downsizer. Yes, I’m an old man. But what do I do with all these books? And so I realised that I had to do something with them. And so I as I reviewed them, I basically built a book called Learning to build that is a homage to my four very, very dear mentors who basically taught me how to innovate. And what I did is I took what they taught me and I took, what I would say is the top 50 innovators I worked with and said, What skills do these people have that people aren’t talking about? And it turns out that there’s five of them.
The one interesting thing is that most people think about building right or making things in the same way to designing things and like they think the idea has to come first. And what I realised over time is one of the biggest differences is that I actually think about not what to build first, but why I need to build first. And so we actually think about instead of going left to right, we think about right to left, and what are the outcomes that we’re looking for? And who are the consumers? And what are the outputs we need to give them to actually help them make that progress? And then ultimately, what are the systems or technology we have to do to get there to then what are the inputs, and this is how, to me, I feel as the secret of how I’ve been able to build so fast isn’t, so instead of trying to build something and say, Alright, who needs it, which is like one too many. It’s like, this is where I actually can figure out many to one.
And so that’s really ultimately kind of what they taught me. And so there’s these five skills of
- empathetic perspective
- uncovering demand
- causal structures
- prototyping, to learn
- making trade offs
And these are things that I never learned in school, to be honest, if they were in my engineering programme at all. And you started, if anything, it might have been causal structures, but prototyping to learn, I learned from Dr. Taguchi and that he would always say that most people prototype to verify, like, I know what we should do, let’s build it. And so we can show it works. And what I was taught very early on was No, I don’t know how it works, I’m going to build several different ones and break them. And you start to realise that most people have lost this notion of prototyping to learn.
The other part is empathetic perspective is how do I see things from many different places you start to see really good innovators can see both, and making trade offs. So if I look at this, as it relates to basically, demand side supply, side demand side, it’s like, at some point, if I think about the supply side is, or the demand side is who, when and where, and why. And, and the supply side is basically what, how and how much right, empathetic perspective, I need to actually see all of it, I need to be able to understand the systems I can understand the consumer, I need empathetic perspective for seeing things from multiple perspectives all the time. But uncovering demand is really the core aspect of it, whether it’s jobs, whether it’s ethnography, there’s many ways to basically but how do you actually frame the need that’s out there the opportunity? And then ultimately, how do things work that’s causal structures? And then ultimately, how do you put them together as you prototype to learn and you learn how to make trade offs. And so that’s my new book that’s coming out in July 2022. And ultimately, I have a book for the demand side and have a book for the supply side.
I think we got time for questions.
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We have time for questions, which is is the perfect thing.
Thanks, Bob. That was great, quick question. And something you’d spoke about right at the end there was that you look for the outcome that you’re trying to achieve or someone else was trying to achieve? And from that, you then figure out what it is that you’re eventually going to build rather than the opposite of that? How is it that you get to the outcome? Or how do you find what that outcome is?
Yeah, so to me, it goes back to the notion that is, for me, one of the foundations of jobs is the struggling moment is the seed for all innovation. And so I’m constantly looking where people are struggling. That’s how I got the agent, like, look, I didn’t want to wade into the HR space. Nobody wants to be there. Right? And but it’s where they struggle. And then out of it. That’s, that’s where I came in. So all of the things that I’ve been building for 30 years have started with Where do people struggle? Where do people want to make progress? And they can’t? And how do I actually understand where, where the, almost the pent up energy to do something, but they don’t have anything lies. Right. So I, I think that most real growth comes from that rather than stealing share from somebody else. And so, so I the to answer your question directly, I do something called truffle hunting, and literally go through and listen to people’s lives. Like, I’m very horrible at small talk. And so, and people who know me well know, like when I when we go places is like, I’ll really talk to anybody about whatever struggle they want. And as you accumulate the struggles, you’re like, oh, that’s an interesting struggle. I want to go into and dive into and that’s, again, how I did sales took me 10 years but but sales it did that way. And that’s how I did kind of the the job thing as well as like, people struggling with stuff.
Nice so sounds like a mix or convergence of what people struggle with, with what you’re interested in solving.
Exactly, exactly. But you got to start with the struggle because otherwise, like when you build your own product, you literally are constantly it’s almost like Tinder, you’re just keep looking for a match and there’s no match and you keep going and going and so you spend all your time and effort trying to find a match as opposed to I already know what the struggle is then then it’s more about matching the product to the struggle than it is about the product to people
from a career perspective. You know, I think something that I’ve noticed is that people tend to frame their career around the things that they’ve succeeded at or been good at. And you know, you talked about that a lot. But often the things that are most meaningful for tourists, particularly in terms of growth, are things we actually find very difficult. And we’re not necessarily drawn to them. But if we do them and apply ourselves and succeed at them, then they become tremendously important.
But there are, so what I would say is, as long as it’s connected to an outcome I want, even though it’s difficult, if I want the outcome enough, I will learn it. But if I have to learn it, and I don’t want the outcome, it’s going to be very difficult for people to learn it. And so it’s so this is where it’s being able to understand what’s the difference between being lazy, and being incompetent. And I would say, I’m not lazy about my spelling, but I’m incompetent. But at the same time, I’m an introvert, not more than an extrovert. And, you know, if I if I could I get more energy by myself than than necessarily being with a bunch of people and so part of is to know that and to realise, like, how do I need to work around that, and to realise what helps me be the best me is a very important piece about that, and most people end up, especially I feel on the corporate side is they spend more time focusing on my negative points to make me better at the bad things, as opposed to understanding why I want to make those bad things better.
Yeah. So if I understand, then you’re trying to really get a sense for what the pull factors are, the, the vision of themselves that they see not necessarily that they have the capability to get there, but they have the motivation to work.
That’s right. And the motivation is, is what can i What will I be able to do that I can’t do today, if I could learn this skill that I’m bad at. Right? And so like, there this is, I don’t know if this is an aura ring. I don’t know if you can see that. But the aura ring was actually built around the premise of of people not knowing whether they were tired or lazy. And that this ring gives us gives people the confidence to actually say, no you had a bad night’s sleep last night, don’t work out, because you’re gonna hurt yourself. As opposed to like, God, I don’t feel like I should work out. And you start to realise like, it’s a really important distinction about what does progress mean? And that we can, there’s two sides, I can actually go try to learn something, I spent an hour a week for almost 30 years learning how to spell. And then I finally just said, No, because I got seven hours a week back, which is kind of amazing.
And so the notion, though, is that I thought I could do it. And then at some point, I realised I couldn’t. And so I and then I started to tell people, I was dyslexic. And guess what people went, Oh, gosh, that makes a lot of sense. Like, oh my God, I’ve been working on this for so long. And now I can do all the things I’m really good at as opposed to spending, I spent, I spent literally eight minutes the other day trying to spell entrepreneurship with a spellcheck. With a spellcheck. I still couldn’t get it. I finally was like, alright, Siri, what is that I sat in there, like, and it still hit me. So hard. So like, I would say, you want to do work that gives you energy. And when you do the work that gives you energy, you will be motivated. And if you do work, that sucks your energy, you will you will literally figure out how to get out of it. And what I want to do is help people go from having 80% of the work that sucks. And they do it for 20% to having 80% of the work they do they love and the 20% is the tax they have to pay to do the 80% they love
So my question is that I was thinking that human motivation, whether add life or the work is just such a complex thing. There is just like so much going on. How do you even pick the right dimensions to look at to match against? It’s like, incredibly thin. Can you really energy or something like that?
Yeah, yeah. So what’s so interesting is that the fact is, like people will say, I love to work with smart people. And the unpacking process is like, what does that mean? Like, what do you mean, smart People? Well, you know, somebody asked me, like, I love to work with smart people, people I respect, I’m like, okay, like, Did you respect them before you work for them? Well, no, I’m like, well, So what made you respect them? It’s like, well, I can I can talk openly, we can actually argue they would, I could challenge them and they could challenge me. I’m like, okay, that’s the criteria by which you really want to do things, because you’re looking for the effect, but what are the underlying causes to do that? And so part of this is that, though, at one level, almost everybody can say they’re done. Tensions are the same. The unpacking part of what it’s more about, and what it’s less about becomes very, very unique to each person. And so part of is being able to, for you to become clear on what you mean by like, I want to be challenged, because where’s the limit of being challenged? And what does challenge really mean? And when are you not challenged? And when have you been challenged? And what is the good? What’s the good amount given where you’re at. And so part of this is having people reflect on moments where energy came, and what caused that to happen. And getting to those causal mechanisms,
So you’re saying, it’s not really you don’t really come down to whatever some holy grail of people’s motivations and in any, whatever, Maslow’s pyramid or anything like that, instead, they just like, unpack and unpack and unpack and make it very bespoke,
when we can bespoke to people. But the process to do that actually then enables them to go out and talk about what’s so interesting, when people start to talk about the job they want in those terms, people redesign the work for them. Because the job description is some high, lofty thing. And when they come back and say, Well, I want to do a job that’s this. And oh, by the way, I don’t want to do that. I’ve been finding people redesigning the work to get these people to fit. Kind of amazing. It’s again, another place, I never thought I’d be working. But it’s just it’s so rewarding.
Really, I’ve been like inhaling your content for the last week and a half in preparation for this. I really enjoyed that. I’m just curious, what other? What did you not say that you would have liked to have said in other parts of the other parts of the business that maybe could, you know, benefit from jobs to be done thinking? And I think so probably finance is the only one that’s not tapped into? Yeah,
well, I’ve done so I’ve done finance. And I’ve had people in finance. So like, like, what? So for example, think about the reports that people generate, and it’s more or less like, what outcome do they want from the report. And what we’ve been able to do is, like, so we’ve done it for IT, we’ve done it for basically, finance, we’ve done it, I’ve done it for factory floor, like there’s a whole bunch of different places. The finance part is interesting, because it’s such a such a rigid type organisation, and you start to realise, like, planning is all based on finance and accounting, right? Like it as a product person, like, I have to guess what I’m going to spend, you know, a year from now, when I start to do a budget, I have no idea like I don’t even know I’m gonna be building. And they then treat my guess as if it’s a, you know, it’s not a guess, and then they hold me accountable to the stupidity because I, when I guess I’m usually the stupidest at that beginning. And so, helping finance understand this is, I think, really, really important and to understand, like, at some point they have over precision. And so there’s a realm there that I’ve been kind of dabbling in, but like, I am still a little afraid to walk into that part of the world yet, if you know what I mean.
But, but I’ve been able to help them do some things, but like this, like everybody struggles, I think the interesting part to me is how so for example, if somebody works for me now, and and what I’ve learned is like so she, she came from education, and she helps to a lot of this work, but she misses helping schools and helping kids. And so part of our job description we wrapped together is that we found a school board that she joined us as a school board member, and then and then she’s also doing Big Brothers, Big Sisters. And at some point in time, it’s one of those things where I’ve told her like, that’s part of work, for you to be satisfied and making progress if you don’t do those things, and you do too much of this, and you don’t have that I know you’ll leave. So how do I make sure that you’re doing those things as well and enabling you to do it so we’ve been able to redesign the work to make sure that she can go to a baseball game or she can go do different things with her little sister that enable her to basically make sure she fulfils those needs without, you know, like going dry on one or two dimensions that then forced them to leave.
Founder, ReWired Group
Bob is a founder, maker, innovator, speaker, and now a professor. Pioneer of Jobs to be Done theory, an expert on creating, developing, and launching new products and services.
His work with tech companies such as Intercom, Basecamp and many more has helped adapt the Jobs to be Done theory to technology products.
Bob has been one of the principal architects of Jobs to be Done in the mid-90s along with Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, and has continued to develop and apply the innovation framework to everyday business challenges.