Get Your Job Done: Belief Reinforced

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Get your job done in focus

Get Your Job Done: Belief Reinforced

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I   recently wrote an article in which I spoke about the three options available to any organization embarking on an analytics initiative. The three options are:

  1. Buy a readymade product
  2. Build the solution in-house
  3. Simply get your job done by the external experts

While the article discusses these choices specifically in the context of a business intelligence initiative, an incident happened about a fortnight ago reinforced my belief about focusing on ‘getting the job done’ while approaching any problem or a new purchase.

Let me share that incident with you.

That Monday early morning, I woke up with the ringing of my cellphone. It was my good friend who had recently shifted with his family to a new flat in the same suburb where I live presently. The place was new to them so I was glad to help with little things during their shifting. Sounding a bit flustered, he asked for phone number of some ‘reliable plumber’ who can solve the water leakage problem in their shower. I was surprised to hear that, as I thought he had already got it resolved by installing a brand new faucet in his shower. On inquiring about it, he reluctantly mentioned that the previous plumber had advised to replace the faucet but apparently it hadn’t solved the leakage problem. Not wanting to agitate him further, I quickly shared the contact details of our regular plumber without getting into more details.

Later that day, my friend called back to explain how the dirt in the overhead water-tank drifted into the shower-pipe, which was out of use for some time, and clogged it. That caused the pressure to build-up near the joint where the faucet was connected to the pipe, and that’s where the leak was. Apparently, the root cause of the problem was something else and it had nothing to do with the faucet at all. My friend was frustrated and felt cheated by the first plumber who dazzled him with the stylish-looking faucet and ended up selling him the expensive spout which was obviously not required in the first place. He was now relieved that the second plumber had fixed the leak by cleaning the whole line including the dirt in that tank.

This is what usually happens with many of us in different contexts. Whether it is a plumbing or a business problem, we usually prefer a quick-fix solution to it. It is astonishing how time and again we forget a simple fact of life: that each problem is unique and the right solution involves addressing the root cause rather than applying the standard quick-fix.

When my friend was narrating the steps which solved the problem, I was thinking about the jobs-to-be-done principle.

Get Your Job Done – The Principle

My first encounter with this principle came from a lecture I attended while at Oxford. It was delivered by Prof. Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School Professor who is recognized as the number 1 management thinker in the world. He put forth that customers often buy a product or a service because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve; so they “hire” a product or a service to do the job that will solve their problem. He gave examples of many successful businesses, like IKEA, P&G, and FedEx to name a few, to bring home the point that companies need to think about the customer jobs-to-be-done whenever they are selling a product or a service.

The above incident is an example of looking at this principle as a buyer. Whenever you are purchasing something, buy only that product or service that satisfies your true needs.

But how will you decide which one is best for you?

Think about the job to be done!

Are you buying a car? Think about whether it is for daily office-commute, or for long cross-country family outings, or for transporting your small-business inventory? You will need a different vehicle (not necessarily a car) for each of these jobs.

As a business executive, are you thinking of buying that off-the-shelf product that churns out impressive and colourful charts? Think about what is the job you want to get done with it. Are you looking to solve your (one-time) business problem? Do you want some tracking dashboard tool to see ongoing business trends? Or is it because your boss is breathing down your neck to get ‘the most popular product out there’ just because your competitor has it? Each business has unique problems and needs. You may buy a branded, matured, and sleek but a very expensive product that addresses 80% of your key requirements; or you may go for a simple, convenient, and a very useful service at a cost-effective (but not necessarily cheap) price. Both options would work if it helps you to do your job; and neither would be useful if it doesn’t.

That’s why every buying decision must be made with a keen eye on what job you want to get done. This is especially true for businesses because business decisions cost shareholder money and are not easily reversible. So next time you are out to procure something, think about the job-to-be-done.

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