In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Bob Moesta, pioneer of Jobs-To-Be-Done-Theory, innovation & new venture expert on creating, developing & launching of new products & services.
Welcome to Growth Interviews!
Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.
A visual thinker, teacher, and creator, Moesta has worked on & helped launch more than 3,500 new products, services and businesses across nearly every industry, including defense, automotive, software, financial services and education, among many others. The Jobs to be Done theory is just one of 25 different methods and tools he uses to speed up and cut costs of successful development projects. He is a guest lecturer at The Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Entrepreneurship and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Our talk with Bob Moesta is a rare all-in-one lesson on entrepreneurship, marketing and why we love products.
Here are the biggest takeaways:
- How does Jobs-To-Be-Done actually work? – 00.50
- Tactics of selling better – 02.38
- The famous ‘Moesta’ interrogation method taught – 03.10
- How to avoid the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs do – 13.07
- Pushing knowledge forward with permanent education – 16.44
The Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
Bob Moesta is president and CEO at The Re-Wired Group, a consultancy that has helped to develop more than 3,500 products and services, and the man who pioneered the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework in the mid-’90s. JTBD is a research process that helps uncover a customer’s motivation for buying your product – the ‘job’ your product is ‘hired’ to complete.
The framework came into being, as Bob explains in the latest Growth Interviews episode, from a struggle. At that point, they were struggling with ways to interpret what consumers said and what they meant. Putting the data and the marketing knowledge together, Bob Moesta and his partner found that the entire field of market research comes down to one thing: trying to talk to people about what they want.
Soon, they started to realize that consumers don’t know what they want. They don’t know how to articulate what they want. They don’t know the answer or the solution, but they can talk about why they don’t want, what they have, and the outcomes they hope for by having a new product. After researching this phenomenon, Bob Moesta came up with a framework he comprehensively describes as “trying to figure out and unpack the words that people use in order to express what they mean.”
Bob Moesta is an expert with a clear vision, and his results are proof positive of this. He let us pick his brain on the hot subject of getting better sales. “Without a little bit of a push, some kind of pain, or some gap in their lives, and without a struggle, customers actually cannot see the new product, because a part of this is to realize that there’s a pain in the gain. It’s really about what I call ‘pushes’ in context and ‘outcomes’ in polls, and it’s those sets that actually work together from a math perspective to help us see what opportunity is.
“So, you actually have to think about the opportunities on both sides; on the negative side of why you have to change, and the positive side of, ‘What am I going to get out of it?’”
The Interrogation Method
As an innovator, speaker and professor, Bob Moesta never ceases to surprise. The interrogation method he extensively describes in our interview is not based on any market research techniques, as one might expect. It is, rather, built on criminal and intelligence interrogation methods that go much deeper into the mind of the consumer. Through this method, Bob ignores almost everything that customers communicate through spoken language. All that interests him are the actions, the gestures and the body-language, which never lie provided one knows how to read and interpret the signs. By understanding what people actually do, Bob Moesta actually got down to the trade-offs people are willing to make. In his opinion, “It’s not only about that context of outcomes but the tradeoffs. What do they value more? Are they willing to wait a little bit longer to have it right? Or, is it a case of, ‘I’m willing to actually give up one or two things so I can have it today’”?
In Bob Moesta’s frame of vision, real growth comes where people struggle and nobody knows what to do. “It doesn’t come from beating the competition. It doesn’t come from actually doing something that somebody else already does and doing it better. It comes from people who don’t even know they have a problem, and helping them to see the problem and to figure out how to make progress.”
The Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make
Caring about the customers and their problems is what matters most for Bob Moesta, and what should also matter for every entrepreneur who launches a product onto the market. One thing that can be considered a mistake is focusing too much on the products and the technology, instead of on how the customer is going to use that product if it’s 100% functional but brings a little bit of delight in the end as well.
Another issue is the lack of market vision, and Moesta is not talking about a vision of the future but the clarity of looking at the past. “Every new innovation is literally replacing some old innovation. So, people will stop using something, just to start using it again.” Paying attention to incremental innovation and ways to improve and enrich a product is the ticket to success and, in many cases, a guarantee of such. Paying attention to how good, how functional and how easy-to-use a product is, translates directly into trust in the mind of any consumers. “I don’t care about the product. To actually design a better product, I care about people. So very different. Most people fall in love with the product, not the problem.”
The Future of Education
For Moesta, a high-profile professor, education is teaching people the wrong way, and the worst aspect of the educational system is that it teaches people what to think, rather than how to think. “It seems to me they’re actually forcing people to think that the value is in technology. The reality, I believe, is that we actually have more technology than the market can consume. We’re just not ready to make the progress that technology can allow us to make.”
Part of what is inefficient about the current approach to education is, in Moesta’s vision, the area of vertical skills, where information is divided up instead of being blended. As an experienced professor, he discusses the concept of horizontal skills and the benefits such training brings to people. “I have an engineering skill. I have a marketing skill. I have sales skills. Very few people have horizontal skills. So, to me, one of the things I’m trying to do is actually teach people about the basic ‘how to’”.
Horizontal skills are the skills of an innovator. The capacity to see the problem with a product from multiple perspectives is a goldmine. If the same person has the ability to simultaneously create a finance perspective, a sales perspective, and an operations perspective, and to see everything from the macro and micro levels at the same time, then that person can help in pushing developments much further than any team of experts. Such a holistic understanding of actual problems and situations is the key to innovating in a direction that actually solves a problem, an innovation that will add value. “Really good innovators can swarm around something and move between all these different perspectives, and they can move through time so they can see what happened in the past. They can see it’s going to happen in the future. They have this empathetic perspective.”
Horizontal skills are the skills of an innovator. The capacity to see the problem with a product from multiple perspectives is a goldmine. If the same person has the ability to create a finance perspective, a sales perspective, an operations perspective, to see everything from the macro level and from the micro level at the same time, that person can help push developments much further than any team of experts. The holistic understanding of the actual problems and situations is the key to innovating in a direction that actually solves a problem and ads real value. ‘Really good innovators can literally swarm around something and move between all these different perspectives and they can move through time so they can see what happened in the past. They can see it’s going to happen in the future. And they have this empathetic perspective on.’
Entrepreneurial people are horizontal thinkers, and most entrepreneurs fail a few times until they start learning about all the verticals in their business. Success in digital entrepreneurship is not about being a very good product designer, engineer, or expert in any particular field, but about developing the skill of bending and bouncing through all that the business means and never ceasing to learn.
We hope you enjoyed our video interview with Bob Moesta.
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.
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