Christensen suggests that anyone who buys or uses any product is “hiring” that product to do a job they need done. I “hire” a lawn mower to help me cut the grass, I “hired” my car to get me to work and back, I “hired” a couple of weather apps to answer my data questions.
In a particularly interesting example, Christensen recounts the story of a fast food chain seeking to sell more milkshakes. The chain did a pile of research that cost a lot of money, and didn’t sell one extra shake. Christensen’s team came in and made some observations, then did some interviews. They found that customers who came in early in the morning (about one half of shake buyers) were not actually hungry, or thirsty. What they were doing was looking for something to do on their morning commute. Donuts were too sticky, bagels were too messy and complicated, coffee didn’t last long enough. It turned out a thick milkshake, with a thin straw, was the perfect thing to do on the drive (and stave off the mid-morning empty stomach grumbles).
This is a game changer for me. From hence forth, all products and services I design will be interviewed by a user asking, “Can you help me do this job?”