Clayton Christensen, Milk Shakes, Cigarettes and Facebook

“When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” something to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we are confronted with the same job, we hire that same product again. And if the product does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look around for something else we might hire to solve the problem.”

― Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton Christensen is expert on innovation. In his recent book “Competing Against Luck” he has come up with “jobs to be done” theory of innovation.

What this theory states is we buy a product not because of brand but we actually “hire” a product to see if it can get job done ex. I don’t buy toothpaste because of Colgate brand, but I hire it to clean my teeth. If it does a good job, then I will keep buying Colgate toothpaste. But if it does a bad job, then I will “fire” it and look for something else ex. I may go for other brand or maybe I will go for teeth cleaning twig!

So, companies should understand what job their customer is hiring their product or service to do, this will help them in innovating their offerings ex. Ola or Uber don’t own any taxi, but know what customer needs.

Clayton gives example of milkshake. Car drivers buy milkshake not because they think it is healthy or they love milkshake, the job that milkshake does it gives driver “company” during commute. So thick milkshakes that lasts during entire commute sell most.

“A smoker taking a break is not just seeking nicotine. Nicotine is a solution to a job. The underlying job is to relax. From this perspective, people hire Facebook for many of the same reasons. They log into Facebook during the middle of the workday to take a break from work, relax for a few minutes while thinking about other things, and convene around a virtual water cooler with far-flung friends.”

-Clayton Christensen

Clayton given another interesting example. Why do we hire cigarette? Firstly, for dose of nicotine, but it also helps smoker to get out of his workplace and meet like-minded people in smoking zone, it relaxes him. Facebook can do same job, so is competitor to cigarette companies.

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