Successfully transforming how a financial services firm meets customer needs is daunting in the best of times. Largely, the default approach has been to launch multi-year, transformational programs seeking to solve complicated problems across business functions with little flexibility in scope. When the world was caught off guard by COVID-19 in early 2020, carefully-laid plans for capital and human investment needed immediate course correction in the face of changing market demands and uncertainty. These pressures simply magnified a problem that existed even before the outbreak: complex organizations struggle to identify, prioritize, and plan work, especially in a way that adapts to changes as they happen.
Today, evolving customer expectations and new market entrants demand organizations to be more nimble and innovative. And while the industry continues shifting from project to product management, the transformational challenge remains: organizations need new tools to understand what work to tackle and in what order, making the best use of finite resources.
Introducing Jobs to be Done
One of our favorite approaches to this challenge is Jobs to be Done (JTBD). This framework, which has surged in popularity, enables companies to understand the broad set of core customer needs it must satisfy and evaluate where the greatest opportunities lie. Crucially it allows teams to truly understand what customers really want to achieve, what the competition is, and how users define success.
In JTBD, a ‘Job’ is what an individual is hoping to accomplish in a given circumstance. As such, jobs (and their underlying needs) do not change over time. For example: while the result of life insurance is to provide a payout to the insured’s beneficiaries in the event of a catastrophic accident, the real job, in this case, is to provide comfort and assurance that the ones you care about are taken care of no matter what, independent of the actual solution. Through a careful inventory of jobs, teams can re-assess the real, tangible value they provide to their customers.
Using Jobs to be Done
Adopting the JTBD framework requires organizations to change how they view the work they do radically. Rather than looking at the different vertical departments, teams, software packages, and processes that currently exist, the new lens describes the horizontal paths a customer takes from engagement through satisfaction. As a result, the ideal tools and solutions for measuring success, especially at the discrete job level, often do not exist. While the organization will need to use what data it does have available to identify top problems in current state, the solutions should facilitate the newly-defined jobs and establish target-state monitoring capabilities to measure ongoing progress and support continuous improvement.
Identifying and Scoring Opportunities
The first step to figuring out where to first focus transformative change, especially in complex environments supporting dozens of jobs, is discovery. This process, grounded in data and root cause analysis, identifies opportunities either within discrete jobs or, for lack of granular data, at the higher level where one reusable solution could positively impact multiple jobs. These problems are then evaluated using future solutions envisioned according to JTBD, with the most pervasive and misaligned (painful) opportunities taking priority.
Finally, mapping the resulting opportunity scores against each other helps the organization understand where it can best deliver value across all verticals or segments. Teams can then begin to develop solutions to these problems, associating their benefits back to portfolio-level objectives and key results.
Making the Right Investments
When evaluating opportunities across the various steps within a job, opportunity scores are often apples-to-apples, guiding teams in finding the greatest potential within that function. Investments are then made accordingly, building a quarter-by-quarter roadmap to realize organizational goals that are shaped continuously by ongoing monitoring and market conditions.
But when exploring portfolio transformations across many jobs and stakeholder groups, the picture may be much less clear. When the waters are muddy, our preference is to take an approach similar to the venture capital model: leaders should make small investments in multiple areas to quickly test hypotheses and assumptions. Solutions that demonstrate lift can be quickly scaled up, diverting resources from those that are less effective. In this way, the process of decomposing jobs, quantitatively prioritizing opportunities, and evaluating the ongoing effectiveness of the solutions selected using the JTBD framework reveals innovation opportunities that are key to future growth while reducing wasted time and effort.
Jobs to be Done is a powerful approach for financial services firms to understand the value they provide customers and best identify opportunities for transformative change. Within organizations open to new mindsets, product managers seeking to accelerate change and drive continuous improvement should consider leveraging this framework. The insights gained provide a north star around which solutions and priorities remain flexible and responsive.
Is your organization struggling to find the right priorities or, despite significant effort, drive measurable benefits? Reach out to Nic Parmaksizian, Erik Johnson, or Alex Hamlin to learn more.