Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Jobs to do

Identifying opportunities and taking advantage of them
Jobs to do signpost

To build a brand one of the best starting points is to identify 'opportunity spaces', by asking the question: “What are the ways that the world could be better because of how this product could be used?”

Of course, opportunity spaces is a broad category, but necessarily so. Viewing an opportunity space as any commercial opportunity that someone could realise is a key step; it broadens your perspective of what the opportunities could be. Often teams are so deep into the science of what the product does that it can be challenging for them to see all the ways that the value of the product could be realised in the world.

The danger in thinking narrow is that it limits the opportunities you could consider as a business. Also the chances are that other companies are thinking narrow so you are much more likely to end up competing for the same opportunity as someone else and competing uses up a lot more resources compared to identifying a clear space and winning.

Without this broad perspective you could miss opportunities like liraglutide (Victoza, currently used to treat type 2 diabetes) or etanercept (Enbrel, currently used to treat rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis) having the potential for the management of Alzheimer's disease, or everolimus (Afinitor/ Zortress, originally developed for organ transplantation) in multiple types of cancer tumour.

When a customer hires your brand he looks for information that supports the hiring decision

How do you uncover the opportunities others miss?
One approach to uncovering opportunities is to harness thinking originally developed by Clayton Christensen around exploring the jobs to be done. His theory says that customers do not buy a product or service, they 'hire' them to do a job: their 'jobs to be done'. That is the purchasing decision they make which they do based on an internal set of 'hiring' criteria. This hiring criterion is their shorthand for making decisions. Understanding the details of the context that led to that decision is key to understanding the relative importance of the hiring criteria. You also need to understand the more fundamental level of mental processes for how human beings make decisions.

Daniel Kahneman's work on decision-making, for which he won a Nobel Prize, identifies two human systems of thinking which are System 1 and System 2. System 1 is fast and System 2 is slow and methodical. When we think about doctors it is easy to convince ourselves that they make decisions rationally based on the science, System 2. In reality doctors have the same flaw as the rest of us, they are human and they make decisions as humans first and foremost.

Medical training trains their System 1 thinking to help them make better System 1 decisions but they are still making System 1 decisions. Don't believe me? Try this next step.

A doctor could not get through his daily workload using System 2 thinking, it is just too slow, so he has to use System 1 thinking. This is why treatment algorithms have been developed and why A&E and cardiac teams closely follow checklists and protocols because these tools limit the influence of the subjective elements of System 1 thinking and mitigate for human cognitive biases (more on these a little later).

You have to explore the jobs that doctors are trying to get done and the mental shorthand, their hiring criteria, that they have developed to make those decisions. How those decisions are made involve the functional factors of the challenge they face (the job) but also involves the emotional and social factors. How they feel or want to feel about their decision (the emotional) and also how they think others might interpret their decision and what they would think of them (the social). These are the elements that make up what they believe about the actions they decide to take. This interpretation all comes from the internal narrative that each of us has. It is the voice inside your head that commentates on what you have done and are doing.

Here is a quick experiment you can do to prove it to yourself. Find a friend, or colleague, and ask them to walk along beside you at an even pace. Once you are walking ask them to count backwards from 100 taking away 7 each time, ie 100, 93, 86 etc. Now notice what happens to their walking pace. 

What you will notice is that everyone slows down, or even stops. This is because tackling the task requires System 2 thinking and System 2 thinking takes up a lot of our brain's computing ability at any moment in time. Because of this we have to slow down or stop doing other things, like walking.

What does this mean for brand building? 
Key to understanding the importance of jobs to be done to building a brand is appreciating that when someone hires your product to do a job at the point of making that decision he is not hiring your product for what it does he is hiring it for the promise of what he believes it will do. That belief in the promise of an outcome is what brand is. Having a brand that resonates with the jobs to be done of your customers is the foundation of success.

Once you understand this you also need to understand the cognitive biases that are implicit in human decisions. Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways and they can lead to deviations from the rational or good judgment. One of the most well known is confirmation bias. This is where someone looks for information that supports a decision or judgment they have already made. When a customer hires your brand (because we now understand that a customer hires the brand and not the product, because he hires based on his belief of the promise of what it will do) he will look for information that supports the hiring decision he has made. Key to the ongoing success of your brand is making sure that this supportive information is available and easily accessible for your customers. The easy availability of information is also, in itself, a bias. We place more emphasis on information that is easily found or easy to recall and so that information has more impact on our behaviour.

In essence, brand marketing's core aims are to promote or support behaviour change

Implications for behaviour change 
In essence, brand marketing's core aims are to promote or support behaviour change: shifting a customer's current behaviour regarding for example prescribing, to a different behaviour. When we thinking about changing human behaviour we need to recognise that there are 2 forces that promote behaviour change. These are the push of the situation and the attraction of the new solution. There are also two forces that block change of behaviour. These are anxiety of the new solution and habit of the present. Habit of the present is very much System 1 thinking, it is our learned response. We also need to recognise that in a healthcare setting there are many structures in place that support 'habit of the present'. This can be things like nurse support, specific clinics, infrastructure, funding, targets and measurement criteria and treatment protocols to name a few.

To change the habit of the present you need to trigger new ways of thinking that support the push of the situation and convey the attraction of the new solution and this is the role of brand and marketing activities.

Effective brands communicate to the attitudes and motivations of the customer (not the seller). The wants and needs of the prescriber and patient may be rooted in a range of benefits: appearance, self-esteem or confidence for example. Smart exploration of these motivations can provide the fuel by which to anchor your brand in what your customers are truly trying to achieve. 

How to get started
  1. Think about exploring rather than questioning. You are looking to uncover System 1 thinking but the answers you will get will be System 2 responses so you will need to interpret the System 1 thinking in the answer
  2. Ask an indirect question. You won't get to what someone's 'jobs to be done' by asking, “What job did you hire that product to do?” This is because we are not consciously aware of the emotional and social elements that influence our decisions so we cannot explain them to someone else
  3. Have someone take you through how he became aware of the problem he wanted to solve and remember to really explore how he came to framing the problem. 
Michael White is a partner at Strategic North

27th July 2015

From: Marketing



COVID-19 Updates and Daily News

Featured jobs


Add my company
dna Communications

Healthcare communications with unique thinking, insight and attitude...

Latest intelligence

Personalised medicine: driving a need for greater diversity in clinical trials
Kate Shaw, Innovative Trials' Founder & CEO, investigates one of the biggest challenges facing clinical research today....
Congresses and conferences
Superstar congresses and conferences will stay centre stage but now share the limelight with virtual and hybrid events
With the pandemic having dimmed the lights on pharma conferences, their virtual and hybrid replacements have grasped the opportunity and are here to stay...
Cervical Cancer Prevention Month
In this first 2022 blog, the Innovative Trials' Equality & Diversity committee will be looking at raising awareness around Cervical Cancer...