Jobs To Be Done

Clayton Christensen wrote, The Innovator’s Dilemma, in 1997. The basic premise is that large established organizations have trouble dealing with disruptive change. It doesn’t mention weather or broadcasting at all but when I read it, as we began the transition to digital, I kept wondering, “Where was this guy hiding, and spying on us, while writing this book?”

Christensen died last week. You can read a really good profile of the man and his theories here.

Photo: The New Yorker

There have been a few benchmarks for me in weather communication. Most of them centered around putting yourself in the end users position. One of the benchmarks was Christensen’s idea of “Jobs To Be Done”. The basic idea is that we all “hire” some product or service to solve a problem for us. I hired that donut to give me a sugar rush and solve the problem of an empty feeling stomach.  I hired my lawn mower to help me cut the grass. My first lawn mower was a failure because it didn’t solve my problem. It did cut the grass but it wasn’t really designed with Texas bermuda grass in mind and the results looked sloppy. The designers of the donut succeeded because the problem was solved. The designers of the lawn mower failed because their design did not meet my need.

Years ago a consultant asked the weather staff, “What do they want from you?” We all puffed up ad gave answers like accuracy, dependability and trust. All of those were true but the real answer was, “They want you to protect them.” Wow. That answer expands beyond severe or inclement weather to be, “They want you to look out for them,” to grease the skids of their day.

With each product you produce you can ask yourself, “I’m the end user. Is this helping? Is it useful, or does it serve my hiring need of getting me in front of their eyeballs. Was it an effective solution such that they would want to hire me again? Or does the grass look sloppy?”

About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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