July 25, 2020

Jim Kalbach - Jobs To Be Done

My guest in this episode is Jim Kalbach, an author, speaker, and instructor in design, customer experience, and strategy. Jim has worked with many large companies and is currently Head of Customer Experience at MURAL, the leading online whiteboard. He is the author of Designing Web Navigation, Mapping Experiences and, most recently, the Jobs to be Done playbook.


Transcript

N.B. This transcript is (mostly) AI-generated. It may contain a few errors.

Andy Polaine Welcome to Power of Ten, a podcast about design operating at many levels zooming out from thoughtful detail through to organisational transformation and changes in society in the world. My name is Andy Polaine. I’m a service design and innovation consultant, trainer, coach, educator and writer. My guest today is Jim Kalbach and author, speaker and instructor in design custom experience and strategy. Jim has worked with many large companies and is currently head of customer experience at MURAL. The leading online whiteboard is the author of designing web navigation of mapping experiences, and most recently, the jobs to be done playbook. Jim, welcome to Power of Ten.

Jim Kalbach
Thanks for having me, Andy. Great to be here.

Andy Polaine
So just in your job at MURAL, you must be having an interesting time right now. We’re talking just in the sort of still in the midst of coronavirus crisis.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, it is absolutely interesting here, you know, when you have a crisis like this, which is almost unparalleled in the world, some people will do really poorly, you know, business wise and others might actually benefit from it. We’re, we’re lucky to be on that other side. We’re actually seeing a lot of interest in our business. Of course, first and foremost, we also believe we can help, we can help people collaborate better, remotely, but you know, in terms of in terms of our business, I think we’ve never been more relevant with a sense of urgency on that. And we’re really stepping up to try to meet the demand.

Andy Polaine
Yeah, I can imagine I can imagine it’s also been, you know, whatever plans you have for scaling have kind of just gone crazily compressed into “Can we do this in the week and not the next year?”

Jim Kalbach
On all fronts tech, technologically hiring revenue. I mean, everything has just been hyper compressed and we’re trying to keep up. You know, we are we are startup but we’re handling pretty well. I think as a company and I’ve got Scott everybody’s scrambling and working on the weekend. But we’re we want to be there for people, we want to be there for existing customers, and for others who are reaching out newly to us.

Andy Polaine
That’s interesting, you’re going through the startup to established within a very short amount of time.

Jim Kalbach
It’s interesting, you know, I joined the company five years ago. And we were kind of just entering our teenage years, so to speak, you know, and, you know, I’ve been saying, you know, just to kind of summarise the effect that the COVID virus situation has had on our companies, like, We’re adults overnight now, like, like, you know, and, and I don’t, I don’t think we’ll ever, like go back, like, even even after the situation loosens up with the lock downs and things like that. We will forever our trajectory has been, you know, catapulted into a different orbit.

Andy Polaine
Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, for a lot of people, you know, there’s a, there’s a lot of talk about, you know, what’s going to happen when we go back and stuff. I read a thing yesterday, which was 9%, - only 9% - of people in the UK want things to go back to the way they were. So it’s, it’s hard to imagine that you’re going to ever get back to a situation where someone As you know, I’ve got some live stuff, I need to sort out and really like to work a couple of days a week at home, right by their employer to say, no, that’s not really possible, you know, right. Right. Exactly. Yeah. No, I think it is a little bit the art of possibility in terms of team collaboration and productivity. It’s, it’s been a big test. Can we do this and I think that’s proven out any You guys must have gone through, but so is everyone else. This idea of why you know, as a remote worker, you might have been an edge, you know, so called edge case, right, which someone, a lot of people have been stopping using that language and talking about stress cases instead. And now of course, everyone is a everyone’s an edge case, which actually, you realise why the edge case versus stress case kind of terminology makes such a difference because we’re in a stress case, and I’m guessing you guys must have found out quite a lot of stuff on to the stress cases, but also all the businesses kind of using this stuff..

Jim Kalbach
Right. No, no, absolutely. You know, for me overall, I’ve been in in remote work for a while now. My previous company was Citrix makers go to meet meeting teleconferencing solution and Then, you know, now here at mural I’ve been looking at the remote condition, you know, in general for nearly a decade now. And you know, my position was always it’s not an either or, it’s it’s really about momentum and flexibility and agility as an organisation that, you know, you don’t have to be in person and you can do the remote but that doesn’t necessarily replace the in person collaboration, right. And now, now with this, like, like, we were saying that, you know, this this stress test kind of kind of showed that showed that it is possible and I and I hope my hope is that that continuum then kind of kind of sticks around that people realise that it is a viable option, but the relevancy of what I was working on eight years ago in terms of how do we approach remote work is is it’s now it’s it’s overwhelming, it’s it’s hideaway, I can’t, I can’t the number of posts, I think you have one Andy, roof tips, tips on remote sessions, and it’s all these it’s coming out of the woodwork and it’s just it’s thrilling to me to see everybody talking about it suddenly.

Andy Polaine
Well you were the first person, however many years ago it was, who said to me, well one thing one was, you know, if, “if one person is, you know, on video, everyone’s on video, even if the rest of them are already in the same room.” Very clear about this idea of, you know, being careful and inclusive about the people who are effectively trapped in the mushroom on the table. Right. And it’s so easy for the room to end up having a conversation with each other and go “oh, yeah, and by Jim, by the way, Jim, is that … what do you think?”

Jim Kalbach
Yeah.

Andy Polaine
And then, but also this idea that, you know, organisations Take care, sometimes great care about the physical workspaces. And yet the virtual workspaces, it’s as if it’s a kind of cupboard under the stairs and, you know, really kind of neglected. Now, of course, all those companies are finding out the value of having invested in that. And it’s not just the technology, it’s also the sort of the muscle memory and the kind of etiquette and the way of working with Everyone’s used to or, you know, everything from everyone turns their mics off when they get into the call through to kind of other stuff, I guess. You may you must see all of that. And you remember you talking about that?

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, yeah, I call it the digitally defined workspace and you know that there’s been a lot of attention on the physical office environment with beanbag chairs, and free catering and all that kind of stuff. And that’s fantastic. And the kind of the notion there is you want to have a positive employee experience, because that’s going to lead to a positive customer experience. But then you look at the digital workspace where we actually spend more of our time most of our time collaborating, and it’s not only neglected, it’s just sometimes it’s just a pile of tools that I teach me people provide access to, without any instruction on how they fit together, all the etiquette. I mean, it’s all for me, it’s all about etiquette. I’ve also always said, Andy that our tools are actually far better than our muscle memory and our skills at using them for remote collaboration in particular, and that you could we can A lot more than our tools allow for a lot more than we’re actually doing. And I think that’s exactly what we’re learning right now. We’re kind of pushing, everybody’s kind of pushing the boundaries of that. So my hope is that this digitally defined workspace will actually kind of kind of come together and businesses will realise, oh, yeah, that’s not just a soft skill that needs to be hard coded in our attention as well too.

Andy Polaine
How we work together as a nice kind of segue into jobs to be done, I guess, because it’s sort of largely the difference between, you know, in some will not largely, but it’s one of the differences between the two, which is it’s not a pile of tools. But there’s a need here that we’re we’re addressing. So, you you start the book, talking about kind of work, introduction, and all sorts of understanding jobs to be done with a kind of bit of a history of jobs to be done to. So I’m going to ask you the question, I’m guessing you’ve been asked over and over again, which is what’s the job to be done that the book is there to satisfy?

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, no, it’s it’s, it’s a great it’s a great question. And if thought about this a lot. I think there are there are there are a couple of jobs. But for me overall, the main job of the jobs to be done book was to present the field which does have a decade’s long history. In a way that is not too theoretical twos, that a practitioner couldn’t grab on to. And then a related job to be able to apply it as well to Clayton Christensen, who is generally credited from any modern perspective of jobs to be done as kind of the founder of jobs to be done theory did just that he created a theory it was a theory without practice. And other people took that up and actually created a practice around it, but it was either very large and monolithic or obtuse in some way, and I, for me, understood, you’re going to understand the theory if you have if you do it if you if you if there’s a practice with it, so yes, you can read it. it, but I think you’re going to go do it and then go back and say, Ah, that’s what they were talking about with the theory. So I wanted people to have that aha effect with a practical application of it so that they could understand the theory. So the real job was to kind of break it down into a place where people could could actually go out and do something so that they could grasp it.

Andy Polaine
Yeah, there’s a bit in it, which I highlighted, which you say in the in the introductions, most distinctions between strategy and execution meaningless, which I really like so so. So I think it’s partly to do particularly with my kind of experience, but unpack that a little bit more.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, sure. Sure. It’s highly indirectly influenced by Roger Martin, who I think we know from, you know, his design thinking in the business world kind of anchoring design thinking in the business world. And he’s written about about this topic as well to the misinterpretations of those words, and it might be it might be semantic. The difference between strategy and execution. But, you know, if you think about a hierarchy of strategy, right, so you have corporate strategy, but if I’m an individual contributor, you got to break that down to business unit strategy to product line strategy to, to product strategy to maybe within that there’s another strategy, right? So that one, one layer strategy is the other layer is execution. Right? So So in the first place, there’s a there’s a hierarchy. And then when you start looking at is like, well, everything is execution, and everything is strategy in an organisation. And that’s how Roger Martin poses it. But he basically says that it’s about decision making, that anybody who’s making a decision as they’re doing their job is actually making a strategic decision. So therefore, execution has a strategic decision making component to it, as well as an execution decision making component. And there’s therefore it’s two sides of the same coin and they’re one in the same.

Andy Polaine
Yeah, I mean, we I was talking before about the kind of different zoom levels and…

Jim Kalbach
Exactly

Andy Polaine
… it’s music to my ears, but I think I also have this idea. I mean, one of the things that always bugged me about design thinking in the way it’s sort of come to be understood, which should say is that this, you know, at least two thirds, if not more of the thinking being done during design happens during the designing. And, and that bit sort of gets overlooked, I think is often then bolted on as we are we did our design thinking workshop for a couple of days. And now we’re now we’re just going to execute the way we always execute. And you said, but you set this up quite different in in the book. And in fact, that’s a thing that you you say, around the book, that jobs to be done, kind of work at multiple levels in multiple disciplines.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, yeah. No, that I mean, again, you know, it’s it’s kind of the job of the book was to make jobs thinking, and I apologise for using that word. I couldn’t think of a better word and then jobs thinking, Oh, man, I don’t want that to be a buzzword by the way. That’s just how I how I see it. It’s It’s It’s a mindset, right. It’s not an it’s not a theory and it’s not a patent. Did method or you know trademark method, that it’s a way of thinking and for me that’s the real power of it is there’s a shift. Sometimes there’s like a 180 shift where you explicitly and intentionally remove yourself your brand, your product, your solution from the equation so that you get this kind of pure bare bones understanding of the problem in and of itself, which leads to what what I’ve been calling recently as an out of body experience, out of body experience, meaning that you know, companies and organisations are really good at looking at their markets and talking to the markets through the lens of their own brand and solution, right? Oh, consumer buy my product is consumed this right customer journey map, it’s a story. It’s their own story, actually, customer journey map, very selfish document, by the way, and it’s basically it’s basically our own story of our own go to market strategy, right. But what jobs helps us do and it’s not the only thing that does this, by the way, but what jobs the jobs be done does is helps us see it completely the other way around, right? Again, explicitly. And that’s the difference. experience that I think a team or an organisation can get from jobs thinking.

Andy Polaine
It’s just struck me that we’re talking about this, because we both know what it is. But maybe you could, we should take a step back and actually explain what what is jobs to be done for anyone who’s listening to this and doesn’t really kind of know, because there is a dance between the kind of methodology if you like, and the mindset, which I think you just kind of talked about.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So jobs to be done, I think is a perspective that looks at individuals, not customers or consumers, but looks at individuals as goal seeking actors in the world. That’s kind of the core of the of the perspective and I do see it as a perspective. And the the goals that they have, I refer to them as objectives. Have a process around them. So it’s not just a task. It’s not, you know, picking up a pencil on your desk. It’s something that has a process around it. And I refer to that as an objective that has a process that we Can that we can understand, add from, from, from the individuals perspective, in order for an organisation to have a better insight into innovation opportunities into better insight into opportunities for improvement, as well, too.

Andy Polaine
So it’s most clear, I think, when you give an example, can you can you give an example to sort of explain the shift from one to the other?

Jim Kalbach
Sure. So, you know, I give I give this little example, in the book that I’m actually trying to work with right now, because I want to have a very clear explanation of what jobs are in general. Oh, by the way, I want to say, it’s not a job like a career, the word job and I know in different languages that’s problematic. For instance, in German, which does have the word job, which means a career it’s it, that’s not what it refers to. So a synonym of a job to be done would be an objective. That’s that that someone has right and it’s also not the job. It’s also not your job. I have this little exercise at the beginning of my workshops where I have people write job statements. And they start saying what they would do to provide a solution for the problem that I present to them. It’s also not your job as a solution provider. It’s purely from the individuals perspective, what they want to get done. And it gets a little bit complicated because there’s, I think you might appreciate this. There’s levels of hierarchy or abstraction, which you can look at what you get, you can look at jobs right there are there are smaller jobs and bigger jobs and in the field, they talk about small jobs in big jobs and then their aspirations above that as well too. So you have to fight with granularity, but you can basically define a job at any level that you want to innovate. The first question is what at what level Do you want to innovate? Right. And then and then and then you can compartmentalise a statement around a job for instance, get energy in the morning. Yeah, right. If I want to get energy in the morning, we can think about solutions that that fulfil that job and coffee comes Mind, right? So if we’re if we’re a coffee manufacturer, we might want to, we might want to think about how we can tweak sales of coffee with branding and get a different bean and stuff like that. But we could also say, hey, people want to get energy in the morning. And by doing that, we have this out of body experience that allows us to then ask, Well, what else gives people energy in the morning?

Andy Polaine
So yeah, I mean, one of the things that’s interesting when they’re formulated, yeah, right. And so you have this structure, he says, a verb plus objects plus clarify. Yeah, is just how simple they are. So if I can read an example that say, yes, you have a kind of, you know, Roman could have don’t do this, but do it like this. One was the job wrongly described was search by a keyword for documents in the database. And you say, Well, you know, that includes a specific method, keyword search, and the technologies that documents in database and actually the job to be done is retrieve content. Correct? Yeah. Or you know, people prefer to attend meetups and conferences that are nearby. I need to send out attend an event is the job to be around. Yeah, right.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, it is deceivingly simple. And also deceivingly hard to get that to frame it that the absolute right way. An example that I’ve been using recently in my talks and workshops Andy is the the answer to the question. Why did the chicken cross the road? Do you do this in the UK? Is that a joke in the UK? Yeah, okay. It’s to get to the other side. By the way. The first time I used that example, I was in Germany in Frankfurt, Andy and nobody knew the answer that question and I realised I outed myself as an American with that example. But it is that simple. So So what jobs does like I was saying it. If there’s a forcing function where you force you force yourself and your team and your organisation to focus on the core objective with a process around it that you’re trying to solve for first. So you want to find that first? Why did the chicken cross the road to get to the other side? Do we really understand have chickens get across the road to the other side, and we can map that out. And there’s a language around how I would describe a chicken crossing the road. And guess what, it has nothing to do with my brand, or my customer journey map, or my existing product, it’s just that then in another step, we can layer on to that things like emotion and aspirations, and the solution and the brand come after that. But what Job says is that opportunities for innovation and improvement come from fundamentally fulfilling that job first. And then you can add the the other aspects of assumptions and biases of our brand on top of it after that.

Andy Polaine
You actually, I was talking with Lou Downe about their book, good services and talking about this idea that you know, well, one thing was that they write in the book in “services are what users or customers say they are”, your your brand or your service is whatever the user says it is, and then nothing the other way around. But the other idea, we talked a bit about what “Wow! moments” in my kind of dislike in general for this idea of well, moment. Yeah. And you say in the in the book as well, you know, if you don’t get the functional bit of the job, right? You don’t you basically don’t earn the right to do the kind of emotional bit or if you just go for the emotional job and fail to actually deliver the functional job, he kind of just failed entirely.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, that’s the rule of thumb. I do. I do present that as more or less a hard rule in the book. However, I’ve personally been in situations where you wonder if that’s actually the case. And I’ve talked to other people where they don’t wholly buy into that. I think, though, from the jobs perspective, though, that would be your starting point. You would believe that to be true that I need to know how to chickens cross the road first, before I try to make an emotional appeal to the chickens to get them to cross the road.

Andy Polaine
I think there’s a trade off and I think the most glaring example of that is is kind of operating systems, of kind of Windows versus Mac or, you know, Android devices. To you, there’s a balance between or there’s a trade off between the two that you make, we know you and I get to sacrifice some kind of functional thing for some other kind of emotional thing. And I think that probably happens in all sorts of things. You know, it happens in that. But people with cars, or it happens in quite a lot of products as well.

Jim Kalbach
Agree. And here’s the point, I’ll kind of reiterate now that you set that context up, that trade off will happen, but it happens in a specific order that you first look at the functional job, then you smack that up against all of those emotional, aspirational and brand aspects. And then you make the trade offs, not the other way around. So in that sense, jobs to be done. It’s it’s almost a, it’s a process that you need to start there and then do those other compromises or diagnose diagnoses afterwards.

Andy Polaine
Right? But you might let in that in that kind of trade. You might let the emotional side kind of when you’re like,

Jim Kalbach
Okay, you know, you absolutely can and I have a great example of this When I was working for a provider of online women’s fashion, and I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in online women’s fashion, I learned a lot. Yeah, it’s, it’s it was eye opening. And we were looking at things like jeans, but which I didn’t realise were so so so problematic in terms of fit, but the space is wholly emotional and about personal brand and how you look like there’s the social and emotional jobs that go along with online women’s fashion. But the the the key problem that we identified, in part using a little bit of jobs thinking that I injected there was do the jeans fit, right? So it was a functional job that we that was going to be the wow effect or the thing that we knew we had to solve first. Right? So even in even in spaces where I thought, No, no, this is all about, you know, aspirations and appeal and things like that. It actually did come back to a functional job that we needed to solve first.

Andy Polaine
So let’s talk about the hierarchical nature this because you’ve got this kind of micro job, little job, big job and then aspiration Yeah. It kind of triggered the whole thing in my head, I have to admit and if Nate is listening to this, he’ll will know I was sort of a quiet jobs to be done sceptic. In the early days, if I was him who kind of converted me, and partly because we were working on a project where we, well, there is research scope creep. So that was one thing where we went from what should have probably been about 20 or 30, interviews to about 100. And so we had a kind of real synthesis problem with it. Obviously, one of the things that jobs to be done is good for his synthesising and it was very, very hard to work out what level of abstraction or what level of kind of job I guess, are we going to synthesise this in, because it felt like the further up you went, the less it’s not that you couldn’t group the stuff into jobs. But those jobs became less useful for a design team because they were things like be seen as an expert in a community or something that which is well, how much can we? How much can we kind of influence that? And so certainly I found for kind of design teams, a couple of layers down levels down, were were more useful because it was something much more sort of concrete that they could actually design artefacts for, what are your kind of views on on?

Jim Kalbach
I think that’s it. I think that’s exactly the issue that jobs to be done address is is what what’s your unit of analysis? And at what level can you realistically have agency? And I think sometimes, and I’ve done this, I’m guilty of this, and I don’t know if you’ve ever done it, where you go into a, you know, a session or workshop of some kind, and you’re swinging for the fences, as we like to say in the US, you know, just blue sky innovation and you are trying to, you know, make people feel like an expert. You know, that’s a great aspiration that you have, but you make widgets. Yeah, you know what I mean? So, so where’s the agency and then You walk out of that room with a wall full of post it notes and everybody goes back to their day job. The example that I like to give is actually a quote from Theodore Levitt that actually inspired people like Clayton Christensen to come up with jobs to be done. And you’ve heard this before too is people don’t want a quarter inch drill. They want a quarter inch hole. And I just had this on on LinkedIn where people then started ripping it apart, say no, they want to hang a picture. No, they want a better home life. And if you can, so joshy does not a game of five why’s because if you play that game, then a job to be done is happiness, love and self actualization. Yeah, and every all the time love self actualization happiness are not great places to innovate, right? And particularly not if you’re a drill manufacturer, or drill bit manufacturer, right? If I’m a drill bit manufacturer, maybe I want to make better holes in the wall. But you know, how far how far what’s my reach of agency that I can actually innovate around and what I like to do is find find the thing that’s comfortable so you can take your team of designers and find the thing that’s like super obvious for them to solve, and then stretch it and go up one level and say we’re going to solve that level up. That’s where I try to come in on. Okay, this is using jobs to be done as a framing mechanism. This is where we’re going to innovate, right? But if you go too high, then you’re just, you’re you lose gravity, you’re just floating in outer space. You know, it’s, it’s weird.

Andy Polaine
I mean, I had this feeling that we were… it was like a skimming stone, you know, we ended up either we would have had to have like, tripled the amount of synthesis time to really drill deep into each one and have kind of massive set of jobs to be done that we could then work from, or you end up kind of with this. I mean, that’s the that’s the paradox of research, right? The more research you have with qualitative research, the more you have, if you don’t stretch the synthesis time at the other end. If you’ve got a fixed amount of time to do that in, you end up going shallow and so ironically, you think you’re getting more In fact, you kind of get less inside because you can’t go as deep and I think that that was the kind of The struggle we had, there’s the opposite thing that you’re talking about that kind of lifting a team up is actually to kind of bring people down a level too. And and I think a lot of at least a lot of clients I’ve kind of worked with teams I’ve worked with, they do stuff a little bit to higher sometimes, which is, you know, we want to be the number one, anything that comes from that that company centric point of view, right, which is, we want to be the number one customer experience in whatever it is, you know, telcos or mobile phone purchasing, or whatever it is. And that’s, and that’s part of the problem that that’s such a broad thing. And it sort of misses the misses the point.

Jim Kalbach
Agree. And if you look at the solutions of those companies, and how well they satisfy their core job, the thing the functional thing that people actually trying to get done with their solution. In most cases, there are gaps there. And opportunity for growth actually come from filling those gaps or extending extending that core job rather than putting layers and layers of assumptions bias brands. Then you go on top of it, right?

Andy Polaine
And those things are often quite kind of banal and boring. That’s the thing that I think is a bit disappointing. People always think innovation is this kind of really exciting thing. And actually, it’s, you know, it’s “this thing, this daily thing that I work with is really frustrating and tedious. I wish someone would make it a bit better.” There was a bit you talk talking about the people and telcos are at the classic kind of churn case. There’s a famous thing in jobs to be done about jobs, interviews and switch interviews. Can you can you talk about that because you talk about in the discovery bit?

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, sure. That I mean that there are a couple different schools of thought around jobs to be done and practitioners have developed, you know, one approach versus another approach. I think, jobs interviews as I described them, and switch interviews kind of fit firmly in to two. Leading camps are schools of thought around jobs to be done. The first jobs interview is you’re obviously working for an organisation. So you need to scope the field the frame of research. Right? So if you work for an insurance company, you’re not going to talk to people about how they listen to classical music, right? You need you need to have some frame of reference before going into those interviews. And that’s that’s your business, your business motion like what what field are you in, right? So you need to do that kind of framing. And then also from within that trying to frame up priority trying to frame the level of altitude that you’re going to be targeting as well to before you go into those interviews. But after that, you’re not talking about a product or solution or anything like that. You’re really just framing the interview starting from which direction Am I pointed out as an organisation doesn’t even have to be a business and then in a much more bottom up way, trying to interview people about what they’re doing independent of a solution or product, right. So it’s kind of moving moving forward or bottom up.

The switch interview is basically saying most of us have products and so on the market already, so I can I can use that to reverse engineer back to the product. Right? So what I’m going to do is say, when did you adopt or acquire that product? And went through questioning? And this isn’t rocket science. If you’ve ever done contextual inquiry or any kind of qualitative interviews, you might read this and say, I’ve been doing this and the answer is, yeah, you have, just use use use your interviewing sensibilities, but what you’re looking for in a switch interview is you’re starting from that point where they adopted or acquired something and trying to go back to moments before that, what’s the thought before the thought before the thought and so you get to what’s called the first thought, and from there, you can deduce what the actual job was. So for me, it’s like one one building up and the other kind of reverse engineering back. But the the idea in both of those is that you’re going to get to this unfettered job description of what they were actually trying to do that underlying objective that people had.

Andy Polaine
So we’ve been sort of talking about using their their sort of research end of things And using jobs to be done as a way as different lenses or waiting as a lens or way of looking at that. And the nice thing is it does work at those different levels, whether it’s kind of strategy or kind of technical thing, or it could also be obviously a kind of UX or service design thing. It’s good on the other end, which is about testing hypotheses with it. So because obviously, and depending on how, how much there’s a kind of iterative process going on and the kind of loop going bad loop back going on for design teams at some point, yeah, someone will have done the synthesis and a team will have decided these are the these are what we think the jobs to be done are. Obviously those are also best guesses. And as you start to validate them, so tell me how it can be useful in the validation end of things.

Jim Kalbach
Sure. Well, first of all, I think I think some of the techniques in in from jobs to be done can be very helpful in coming up with a hypothesis or theory I should say where To start testing, right at what, where are the Where are the weak points, if we just take the functional job, for instance, let’s say we take the job of a chicken crossing the road or getting energy in the morning, right? I could map that out in steps, and then use it as a diagnostic tool to come up with a collective theory that the team buys into that says, here’s, here’s a weak point. And here’s a weak point. And we’re going to try to come up with solutions. For those weak points. Those then become the inputs for something like a lien experiment. We believe that if we in you know, if we notify the chicken about oncoming traffic more that they’ll be less likely to get run over by right whatever that hypothesis statement that would achieve the job of their job quicker, right. So, you know, we would pick a moment there that would then be the input into experimentation. I think the other thing too is through jobs, interviews, for instance, what you can look for our success criteria and that’s The interesting thing about jobs to be done for me is that it actually separates the process from the desired outcomes, or the steps from the needs. So what we can actually do is then look at those needs or the desired outcomes that we’ve extracted from our research as measures of success for the experiments as well too. So if chicken were trying to cross the road, that desired outcome might be to, to, you know, increase the speed at which the chicken cross the road. So then speed becomes a success metric for the chicken in determining whether a solution from an experiment or otherwise would would be the best fit for them that addresses an unmet need. Now that might be super obvious, but the jobs the jobs process actually is very thorough and covering a complete set of desired outcomes that you can then try to prioritise and then hold those up against your solution and say, does this help with the speed of crossing the road?

Andy Polaine
You know, that bit was really nice, because I think one of the things that I remembered when was my ex-colleagues in in Australia, and they had kind of had this nice kind of way of measuring impact for the work that Fjord does. And it had that kind of mix that you talked about, actually very early on. So when you’re talking about those different types of jobs, when you’re saying when you’ve got, you’ve got the, you know, the sort of functional part of the job, but you’ve got also these emotional jobs. And then you’ve got these kind of related jobs. Those all those extra bits all become criteria by which you can that you can measure, right, so you could say, well, I can Yes, I can. I’ve now achieved this job. And I feel, you know, more confident or more trusting in that or not. So those are some nice qualitative things that you can measure. But there’s other stuff around, I guess they’re they’re adjectives and adverbs around when I’m doing this in this context. You know, I want to do this. And so, you know, it could be I can now do this quicker, or I get my job done quicker or better or whatever. And those are all measurable things and all the way through the book you talk about, you take this up, discover, define, and design so forth, but each time you put value behind it, so right, I’m gonna ask this of naive question, if that was what was the idea behind putting the word value, discovering value, define value, designing value, delivering value, rather than just discovered as defined design?

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, it’s a it’s a good question. And it it’s tricky as well, too. Because value, you know, you were talking about this before is what the what the individual perceives, right? We don’t we don’t create value. people perceive value, right? Yeah. So So I crossed a fine line there. But I was asking myself and I think I talked about this in the introduction to the book. I was saying what’s the job of an organisation And, you know, I’m pretty much focused on commercial organisations in the book, but it could be an educational institution or even a government, you know, what’s the job of a business, let’s say, and I found this, this blog post, the author escapes my mind, my memory right now is fairly active on, like the Financial Times in Forbes. But he was saying, There’s basically four, four jobs that that a business any organisation has in order to grow. And that’s to discover where the where the value is that they’re going to go after to define that, then to create it and then to deliver it to the market. So he didn’t use those terms. But when I when I read his four statements, I said, well, that’s there’s four DS there, as well, too. But going back to my answer on what’s the job of the book, I also wanted to show that jobs to be done is pervasive throughout an organisation at any point and I don’t want to present that as as a process. In fact, they use a figure eight to kind of show that’s different modes, that every organisation is in that simultaneous If you’re in discovery mode, you’re in design mode, you’re in deliver mode, that kind of thing. I wanted to show that you could apply techniques from jobs to be done at any one of those points and at different levels of altitude as well, too. So for me, it was actually, you know, to be honest with you, though, Andy, that’s the long winded answer. The short winded answer is I needed a way to organise all of the plays that I’ve had. And it turned out to be a nice way to just have one chapter flow to the next chapter flow to the next chapter.

Andy Polaine
And so I’ve got a question about yours, which is a writing question, which is, at what point did you make that decision? How much of the manuscript Have you got done? Or I’ve done a first draft?

Jim Kalbach
I had that structural decision right way from early on, luckily, and I think it I think it works, it’s actually kind of irrelevant, you know, you know, I show and the word value so the back to your question, the word value is that that’s ultimately what an organisation does, right? But sometimes I’ll show that figure eight and workshops and then I structure my workshop after that. And it’s, it’s it’s just a rubric. It’s just the umbrella you know, it doesn’t really do anything in and of itself.

Andy Polaine
So for the people, because this is a podcast, the figure of eight has those different stages but it’s an infinite loop right? Like the infinity sign in fact and so and you’re right you know everyone’s doing any organisation is doing all of those things all at once which is often forget forgotten because I think organisations often mentally think of themselves as a you know, as a assembly line and there’s just stuff rolls off on the end into people’s homes and you know, they get money.

Jim Kalbach
One of the other things that I really liked about jobs to be done when I first came across it in 2003, was that it wasn’t coming from the design field, it didn’t have that waiting loaded term of design attached to it, and it was coming from the business field and anybody can own it. Right. And, you know, currently in my in my current role, I manage a team of customer success managers so I’m, you know, involved in tangentially in customer success communities, and they’re talking about jobs to be done, and I gave a talk in society. Last year, and it was something like jobs to be done for customer success, which starts on the other side of my loop. And it’s for a specific audience, you know what I mean? And then you know, you see here marketing people salespeople that all kinds of disciplines around organisation are latching on to jobs to be done. So I wanted to come up with a structure where like you said, you can access it at any point. But you could also have any flavour of jobs to be done as well, too.

Andy Polaine
So you may know that I rant generally about how products are actually services, and especially digital products aren’t products. And so for the thing I wrote the other day, I think I might have even been a comment on your blog post was that I considered jobs to be done. The ultimate proof that products are in fact services.

Jim Kalbach
I’m on board with that. I’ll take that as well, too. I’m also not dogmatic about my position around jobs to be done. I’m not I’m not a consult. I’m not an active consultant of you know, jobs. We do have a lot of practical experience, but I’ve been following the field long enough. And, of course, I’ve been following you acts in service design as well, too. So I get your drift right away. And I would absolutely agree with that.

Andy Polaine
Yeah. And it’s because that is the most extreme version of good service. dominant logic is, you know, a bottle of water is actually a thirst quenching service.

Jim Kalbach
Right. Right. Exactly. Right. Yeah, not exactly. Yeah. So you bring up a really good point. Because a lot of existing disciplines, particularly from design and service design fields, they say, haven’t we been doing this? haven’t we been doing this since? You know, Alan Cooper came up with goal directed design and, and goal based personas and you know, isn’t contextual design, don’t they talk about the same thing in the in the book, contextual design, you know, contextual inquiry? And it’s like, yeah, it’s a it’s the same. It’s the same mindset. It’s wrapped up differently, though. And I think that’s important. Yeah. Because a customer success person isn’t going to pick up a 500 page book that has the word design on it, find those pages that are irrelevant, extrapolate that to their field, and then make it actionable.

Andy Polaine
Yeah, no, that’s pretty true. No, that’s the thing. I think. Out of all the things that I kind of was a bit of a penny drop when I was reading the book, that bit we’re going to talk about that at the beginning was Uh huh. Yeah, he’s right. I’d not noticed it. Yeah. And then I realised that and for anyone who’s. So I’ve just started offering design, leadership coaching. And one of the things that comes up all the time, which you’re not taught in design school, much of is, is basically having conversations with stakeholders, then the further up you go in design, the less actual design work you do. And the difficulty comes from, you know, it’s rare that you’re sitting there going, this is a tough design problem to crack. It’s all the kind of people stuff. And it struck me How, how useful this is for people in that to think about how you can kind of reframe conversations and I think you’re right, you know, the language matters and words trigger all sorts of things and reactions and they open people up or shut people down. And that that was actually an insight in there that I thought was, was very, very good and really connected. And people are having a read of it. So listen, we’re coming up to time. I talked about you know, this designer working at many different levels of zoom from the from the Eames film. So I asked every guest what one small thing is either needs to be desperately needs to be redesigned and is overlooked or is well designed and unknown, that has an outsized effect on the world.

Jim Kalbach
Right. Yeah, I haven’t been thinking that while I was talking, because it was such an engaging conversation. Thanks again for having me here Andy, but I do know that you know, those small, those small moments matter, right, that they can make a big difference whether somebody’s in or out and even be kind of even be life changing as well, too. I was invited by an NGO in Abu Dhabi to lead a workshop, working with ex violent extremists actually did a mapping exercise to map their experience. So there, there were violent extremists who got out of the movement. And we went to understand their process of getting out, in particular, what they did afterwards how their life went on afterwards. So and we threw stuff from my last book mapping experiences into the workshop. And it was great, because here I am with ex violent extremists in the room and NGO people and people from the State Department in the US using mapping experiences and sticky notes in design thinking and all that good stuff. But there there were some very interesting conversations there about how do people get on the wrong trajectory as well, too. And it was things things as simple as, you know, having after school programmes for kids, to give them some meaning, like a karate class or something like that. And one of the one of the former violent extremists who I’m now in contact with, was saying that if he had I think was karate lessons if his if his if his parents could, could have continued paying for his karate lessons, he might not have become a violent extremist.

Andy Polaine
That’s, it’s like girls being able to have a safe you know, pathway to school or something.

Jim Kalbach
Yeah, yeah, exactly. But the point at which that happened is miniscule, it’s totally small. When you think of like, so to fight al Qaeda or to fight ISIS, we need to do more after school programmes. It almost doesn’t make sense. The logic doesn’t make sense. But it might be like, Yeah, actually…

Andy Polaine
Oh, that’s a good it’s a good thing. It’s a good example of what happens when you can a ladder up and think about the job which is help find meaning.

Jim Kalbach
Right. Exactly, exactly. And violent extremist organisations are really, really good at recognising that people have a gap in meaning in their lives and filling that in. That’s, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what that’s how that happened. If you pre fill that, that gap with something meaningful karate lessons, music lessons, whatever it might be, right. We have less hate in the world? I think so.

Andy Polaine
I think so too. That sounds like a good place to end. Where can people find you on on the interwebs?

Jim Kalbach
On the interwebs, you can go to my LinkedIn page and connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to chat with people there. Love meeting people if you find me on LinkedIn, and then on twitter at Jim Kalbach no dot no space just at Jim Kalbach.

Andy Polaine
Jim, it’s been great. Thank you so much for being my guest on parenting.

Jim Kalbach
My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Andy.

Andy Polaine
As I’m sure you’re aware, you’ve been listening to Power of Ten. My name is Andy Polaine. You can find me at aolaine on Twitter, or Polaine.com where you can find more episodes and sign up for my newsletter Doctor’s Note. If you like the show, please take a moment to give it a rating on iTunes. It really helps others find us. And as always get in touch. If you have any comments, feedback or suggestions for guests, all the links are in the show notes. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.