Clay Christensen, the late management genius and outstanding human being, was someone who was able to develop business theories and ways of looking at business and life.

Security comes from frameworks and procedures. They are efficient and effective. However, when we hit a wall or are trapped with an issue, or when we hear an explanation that seems like the only option, it may be time to step back and reconsider and move out of the frame, or rather reframe the situation.

Our perspectives on the world are shaped by the frameworks through which we view it. When we are faced with problems, one of the best pieces of advice that we can take is to reconsider the perspectives through which we examine the issue; in other words, we should reframe the problem.

When we move the frame, we see differently.

Clayton Christensen explains this through the jobs to be done by telling the story of a company striving to give a better product but failing to understand what the customer wants. [It’s not his major point, but it shows multiple perspectives on the same scenario]

A restaurant chain finds that many customers order milkshakes before work. They segment clients and analyse competitors. After multiple iterations, they conclude clients need more shake flavours, nutritional value, etc.

Despite all their efforts, sales remain flat.

In the midst of adversity, Clay’s team decide to go directly to the point of sale and meet with their customers face to face. Christensen refers to this as understanding the job to be done. Customers are buying milkshakes for a specific reason. What is the milkshake being hired for by the customers?

According to Christensen:

“Most of them, it turned out, bought [the milkshake] to do a similar job. They faced a long, boring commute and needed something to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting. They weren’t yet hungry, but knew that they’d be hungry by 10 a.m.; they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. And they faced constraints: They were in a hurry, they were wearing work clothes, and they had (at most) one free hand.”

In terms of the Jobs To Be Done Theory, in order to truly understand your customer, you must take the time to go under their skin and ask, “why did she do it that way?” when they are going about their daily routines.

It’s all about shifting your attention away from the product’s features and benefits and instead focusing on what job the product does for the customer..

The starting point is what job are the customers trying to get done by hiring this product.

Reflecting on why people do what they do is a better method to understand behaviour than aggregating product demos.

People don’t buy milkshakes because of the flavours they have, but rather because they keep them from becoming bored on their long drive to work and because it keeps them fuller for a longer period of time till lunch.

When used correctly, reframing may be a powerful tool.

Recognising that the current framework must be changed or scrapped is the most challenging element.

PS: In South Africa, where most cars are manual, you never have time to be bored since you’re always shifting gears manually, especially in high traffic 🙂

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