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    May 2, 2016

    Welcome to thrv and Jobs-To-Be-Done

    Welcome to thrv! We're excited you're here and we can't wait to tell you more about our company, our people and our software. Why are we so excited? Because we believe the discipline of Product Management is ready for a new approach. One that will have you seeing your customers, your career and your product roadmap in a whole new light. We thought the best way to introduce ourselves to you would be by letting you hear directly from our Founder & CEO, Jay Haynes.

    Jay has 25 years of experience running companies and shipping products, including time at Microsoft as a Product Manager. He is the holder of three U.S. patents and has received an MBA with Distinction from the Harvard Business School. Jay's taken that experience and expertise and focused it on one mission: to help product teams launch successful products. That's ultimately why he started thrv, the first and only software application for Jobs-to-be-Done product management.

    So, if you're involved in product management and you're struggling with questions about features, customer needs, pricing, or customer acquisition, grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage and start your journey with this introductory interview that will help you understand what Jobs-to-be-Done is all about, how thrv leverages this innovative approach and, most importantly, how it can help product managers excel at their jobs.

    I've heard of Jobs-to-be-Done. It has something to do with a milkshake, right?

    Jobs-to-be-done was made famous by Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, who wrote about analyzing milkshake sales for a major fast food company (watch this great video for a description of the milkshake example). Forty percent of shakes were sold first thing in the morning. Did this company's milkshake have a flavor that early birds craved? No, they had a "Job-to-be-Done": keep hunger at bay until noon and reduce the boredom of their morning commute. Christensen stumbled upon a real insight: people weren't buying a product, they were hiring a product to help them get a job done.

    The milkshake served the job because it kept you full until lunch, you couldn't drink it quickly, and it only took one hand to consume -- perfect for driving. It's interesting to note that recently, Taco Bell created a line of breakfast items and focused on the fact you could eat it with one hand, leaving you free to go about your business. That's a relatively simple consumer example, but Jobs-to-be-Done is a very potent approach in much more complex markets like medical devices, business information and complex consumer markets where the job itself is actually much more complicated.

    Ok, but what is thrv?

    thrv is the first and only software to use the Jobs-to-be-Done methodology for product teams and product managers. What that means is, thrv puts your customer's job front and center, so everything you do as a product manager and a product team -- from analyzing competitors to prioritizing your product road map and figuring out your messaging and positioning -- is done in thrv. That's very different than other product management tools and software which start with ideas about what your product should do. Because thrv focuses on your customer's job rather than your product, it helps you to generate ideas that will help your customers with their most critical issues.

    How do I use thrv with things like buyer personas or developing a cool new feature set?

    Buyer personas are interesting. They tend to be based on things like demographics, where you might have an urban woman in her 60s and a rural man in his 20s and each is a different buyer persona. But the power of Jobs-to-be-Done is that it focuses on what those personas -- those customers -- are actually trying to accomplish. In the traditional view of things, a buyer persona might lead you astray from potential customers. For example, could an urban 60-year old woman and a rural 20-year old man both be trying to reach a destination on time? And the answer, of course, is yes. And they could both struggle with executing that job the same way, but because personas use demographic information to define your customers rather than the job itself, that can lead you to make extraneous or even inaccurate assumptions. Jobs-to-be-Done can be very useful because it gives you insights into why customers are struggling to execute the job, not just who they are demographically. Once you understand why they are frustrated with executing the job, then you have the key to developing a new feature that they are likely to connect with and use because now you've helped them get the job done quicker or more accurately.

    Will using thrv and the JTBD methodology help me to get more people to buy and use my product?

    That is the entire goal! To make you a product management hero. The goal with JTBD, specifically within thrv, is to coordinate your entire product team on what your customer is trying to do. In other words, to help you figure out, before you invest in building and marketing and selling a product, what is it that people are likely to buy and use? What they're likely to buy is something that helps them get a job done. This, of course, was the famous milkshake marketing example. Clayton Christensen, when he was writing about it, realized that if you thought about improving the milkshake, if you realized that 40% of the people drinking milkshakes were drinking them in the morning on their commute, then you could study and analyze what's happening on their morning commute and gain insights into the job they are trying to execute. Rather than just studying how you make a milkshake better, you would study the job. This is where you come up with breakthrough innovations that people are more likely to buy and use.

    Wait, so JTBD sounds different than what I thought. I don't have the time to learn new stuff, and we've already got a system at work. Why should I try this new approach?

    There are three main reasons you might want to try the JTBD approach:

    1. You want to convert more customers. JTBD can be very powerful because it can quickly help you improve your positioning and your messaging just by thinking about what your customer is trying to accomplish.
    2. It can help de-risk your product roadmap. Your company is likely planning to invest potentially millions of dollars in new product features that are theoretically going to help you beat your competition. But that investment can be very risky because, frequently, companies launch new products or product features and they don't generate the revenue growth that they need. With thrv and the JTBD framework, you can assess the risk in your product roadmap.
    3. It is a much better way to identify your competitors' weaknesses. If you have competitors that you are worried about, that are launching new products and/or taking market share from your company, you can use thrv and JTBD to figure out where their weaknesses are by analyzing not just your product versus their product, but how well your competitors product gets the job done, and how well your products get the job done.

    I'm just a product manager. Doesn't this need to get approved by the C-Suite?

    It's good to have executive buy-in into any new approach or new tool but, as a product manager, you can train your team, and get the training you need yourself, to help improve in your job as a product manager independent of your C-Suite. As a product manager, you're always looking for new insights into what your customers want and what your competitor's weaknesses are. JTBD and thrv can help you as a product manager which can help you help your team, which is the ultimate goal of thrv, to create highly effective product teams.

    I get what you're talking about, but this will totally baffle my colleagues.

    JTBD is a very logical process. When you explain your customer's job and what they're trying to accomplish in a logical, coherent story, which is what JTBD enables you to do, your colleagues are more likely to agree on what your goal as a product team should be. In traditional methods, where there isn't an agreed upon method to understand customer needs or what your customer is trying to accomplish, problems such as conflict, dissatisfaction, and emotional arguments among colleagues can arise. One of the real advantages of thrv and JTBD is, you can translate a customer story into a series of metrics that can be measured, so then you and your colleagues can agree on what your customers are trying to accomplish which makes it easier to agree on what you should put in your product roadmap and how you should message and position your product.

    Ok, this all sounds pretty good but the Head of Product wants to push new features out by the end of the quarter. Will thrv help us do that?

    What you want to ask yourself (and your team) is, why do you want these new features for your customers? This is the power of JTBD thinking: understanding that customers don't necessarily want new features. In fact, what they want is to get a job done. If you can get the job done with fewer features, in many markets, thats actually a better solution. Ultimately, what your Head of Product wants is satisfied customers and more revenue by selling more of your product. Jobs-to-be-Done enables you to focus and measure where your customers struggle so you can identify if you truly need more features, or if you actually need fewer features to help your customers get the job done quicker and more accurately.

    This requires a paradigm shift in thinking for the Head of Product and his/her team. Rather than measure their success by the number of features launched, they should be looking at customer satisfaction as a key metric of success, and customer satisfaction is measured, in the mind of the customer, by how well they can get their job done. That was my job at Microsoft as a product manager. We measured ourselves against the competition by who had the most features. Most of the time that didn't work because people weren't buying software based on the feature count, they were buying based on how effectively they felt the product would help them with the job they needed to get done. That traditional sort of thinking does often tend to lead companies down a path, and they do tend to chase their competitors. Real breakthroughs can come when companies eliminate features and make it easier for customers to get the job done. This is not easy to do without JTBD, which is why we created thrv.


    * * *

    Thanks for reading, we hope you found Jay's thoughts and insights worth thinking about. If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear them. You can leave a comment below, or engage us on Twitter @thrvapp. If you'd like to speak to us directly about thrv and our training program, you can get in touch with us here.

    Posted by Jay Haynes

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