Customer jobs

This is a cross-post from my original blog, where I discuss a variety of topics around product management and technology.

The customer has a job to do. Do you know what it is? Have you even asked them?

I first came to learn about Jobs, Pains, and Gains (JPG — no, not the image format) a few years ago. A colleague of mine introduced us to Strategyzer, the folks behind the “Value Proposition and Design” book. They do a good job bubbling up some important concepts here:

  • Jobs: Document everything the customer is trying to do. What problems are they trying to solve? What are the steps in their process today?
  • Pains: What are some of the challenges in solving that problems today? These can be financial or emotional. What
  • Gains: What’s the benefit the customer is trying to achieve? What do they get out of the process today? Describe any and all benefits — functional, financial, emotional.

As a PM who’s been using Agile for nearly 9 years now, I find the JPG similar to a User Story. If you think of a User Story in this format — “As a __, I want to __, So that __” — you will see that JPG can fit somewhat into this framework. Usually you will find a hint about the underlying pain in a user story — especially one that provides more context up front (usually in the epic).

In marketing and product management, you may see companies heavily focused on the pain and gain aspects of JPG — first figuring out who (persona) we’re trying to sell to (e.g., Director of IT), what challenges or problems they have, and why our product is the best to solve those challenges. We often underestimate the job that person is trying to solve — mostly because we are so solution focused and try to emphasize why we’re better and how we’re different. We often leave out important details of the job that can actually help us relate more to our prospects and customers.

Use the jobs part of JPG to frame your product in a whole new light. Is it really getting after the biggest pains? What are some other ways you can delight your customer? In fact, this process may reveal that you and/or your competition are irrelevant. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Jobs-to-be-Done (#JTBD) theory.

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