Competing Against Luck Book Review – What’s YOUR Job to be done?

Yesterday marks the first day the Young Enterpreneur Club book club is officially in action by having a discussion on the book by Clayton Christensen, Competing Against Luck. This book is released in 2016. Rated 4.6/5 in Audible, 4.32/5 in Goodreads, and 4.5/5 in Amazon, review-wise, this book is a strong “must read” for anyone.

The book revolves around the idea of “Jobs to be done” theory. This theory states that customer hires our products and/or services to do a specific job for them, and the better we capture what job customers hire us to do, the better we can capture the opportunity in the market.

There are 2 criticisms to the book in general, one is that the book lacks is a comprehensive framework on how to start and implement the jobs to be done theory in our daily lives, jobs, and businesses. And two, the way the phrasing and introduction is a bit confusing, and takes a few times to read before there’s the “a-ha” moment.

The jobs to be done theory gives a great view on how we should take the point of view of our customers, what are the pains that we are solving, why did the customer buy our products/services, who’s our targets and key demographics, how we can cater to their needs, and most of all, how we can deliver the message and make an emotional connection with the customer.

One of the concerns about the theory is that what if employees are not willing to give feedback on what they thing can/should improve in the business. There are some ways to encourage people to be proactive, and one of it is shown by Astra with their program, InnovAstra. Astra encourages innovation from their employees by making it to a competition, and awarding the innovators. 2 of the example that we talked about was the innovastra contenders from Trakindo and United Tractors.

A case study in the book that stood out in the discussion was Toyota’s case study.

“Toyota developed processes that ensured that every defect was identified and fixed as soon as it was created. As long as Toyota is continually identifying “anomalies” in the manufacturing process, every single defect is seen as an opportunity to make the process happens. For example, an employee must never add value to a part until it is ready to be used in the next step of adding value. It must be done in the same way, every time. That way managers know, definitely, that the value-adding step worked with the next step in the process . That createds an environment of repeated scientific experimentation. Each time it’s done the same way constitutes a test of whether doing it that way, to those specifications, will result in perfection every time.” – Competing Against Luck, Pg 25

As business owners that try to strive for consistent quality and delivery, the way that processes can support defect identification and elimination is crucial. How Toyota can internalize this process is worth an in-depth discussion in itself, especially on how this can be implemented in other businesses.

As a result of reading this book, 2 of the members are implementing it in their businesses. They manage to look into how customers are using their product, the competition landscape, and then transform their worldview. What were previously their competitor can be transformed into their customer by changing the specifications of their product and the way value is communicated.

This discussion leads to the topic of Red Ocean VS Blue Ocean. Red ocean strategy means that the company tries to beat their competitor to grab an increasing share of existing demand. As competitions gets tighter, prospects for growth and profit is limited. While on the other hand, blue ocean strategy means tapping into the previously untapped market space and create demand, this can turn to an opportunity for highly profitable growth.

It can be said that by looking at the market with a “jobs to be done” perspective might be able to empower you to turn the red ocean into the blue ocean. A great example is what was done by one of our members, she, as a training provider, provides trainings to corporate clients. This means that she is currently competing against companies having their own corporate universities and/or using other training centers. After reading the book and analyzed her market and offerings, she transformed her training offering that was provided to corporates to offering modules to corporate universities, training centers, and other parties that were previously her competitors.

All in all, I believe that all of us gained something by reading this book, and it was good to see how this book can serve not just as a reading material, but as a catalyst for change.

The next book we’re reading is Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, released in 2016. It has great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and I can’t wait for our next discussion next month.

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