Becoming a Truly Customer-centric Product Manager with the "Jobs to Be Done" Framework

Guest Post by: Izge Cengiz (Mentee, Session 3, The Product Mentor) [Paired with Mentor, Amanda Ralph]

As product managers – whether new to the role, or a seasoned product manager- we frequently come across or actively use the product canvas. Product Canvas helps us clearly lay out the main building blocks of a product from unique value proposition to key success factors; from customer segments to business value/drivers. Although each section of the product canvas covers an essential part of the product, there is one that, working with my mentor Amanda has been really etched into my product mind, and that is “Jobs to be done” framework: When – I want to – So I can. (Note:”jobs to be done” section corresponds to “problems” section in the original product canvas template)

At first, it might sound counter-intuitive coming from a product manager, but a product focus alone does not work to drive disruptive change. Too often, we can find ourselves diving deep into customer segmentation, business modeling, product feature selection even pricing before we answer this very fundamental question. In Amanda’s words, what is key is understanding what real life job your product is solving for and what is the value of the product in the context that it is used in. You can answer this critical question leveraging various tools such as interviewing your customers about their experience (note: not directly about the product itself) with open ended questions and listening to their stories or observing your clients in real life. Amanda in her product mentor talk drove the message home with the milk shake example. (if you haven’t watched: http://bit.ly/1XIKXYt) By understanding what your customers use your product for and in what context, you can redesign/optimize your product according to your customers’ experiences. This leads to happier customers and higher sales for your product – two birds with one stone!

In my opinion, the biggest contribution of clearly establishing jobs to be done for a product is, that it acts as a litmus test against products that don’t solve a real problem for their intended customers, but are developed almost as a vanity product. Not only does this approach save the company’s valuable resources from being wasted on products that don’t have a real potential, but also serves as a great tool to communicate the value of the product, both to internal decision makers as well as end users.

With Amanda’s guidance, I applied this thinking to the products that I manage, and saw first hand the clarity it brings to thinking about the product and communicating it with others, both internally and externally. I am happy to see that, the more I go back to the jobs to be done framework, the more it’s becoming second nature in my approach to new product ideas or existing products. I recommend to all my fellow product managers to stop and ask themselves early and often: “What’s the job/problem I’m solving for?”

About Izge Cengiz
Izge CengizIzge Cengiz is Product Manager at Monitise, where she is responsible for various Monitise next gen products, delivered on Monitise’s cloud platform.

Prior to Monitise, İzge was Business Development and Account Manager at Infosys, based in New York; covering telecommunications and telematics clients. İzge started her career at Motorola Inc. , as an RF circuit design engineer, working on development of Motorola’s first generation smartphones.

İzge holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, and Electrical Engineering & Economics double major from Bucknell University.

More About The Product Mentor
TPM-Short3-Logo4The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Management Mentors and Mentees around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…

Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Each Session of the program runs for 6 months with paired individuals…

  • Conducting regular 1-on-1 mentor-mentee chats
  • Sharing experiences with the larger Product community
  • Participating in live-streamed product management lessons and Q&A
  • Mentors and Mentees sharing their product management knowledge with the broader community

Sign up to be a Mentor today & join an elite group of product management leaders!

Check out the Mentors & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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About Jeremy Horn

Jeremy Horn is an award-winning, product management veteran with 2 decades of experience leading and managing product teams. Jeremy has held various executive and advisory roles, from founder of several start-ups to driving diverse organizations in online services, consumer products, and wearables. As founder of The Product Group, he has created the largest product management meetup in the world and hosts the annual awarding of The Best Product Person. Accelerating the next evolution of product management, Jeremy acted as creator and instructor of the 10-week product management course at General Assembly and The New School, and mentoring at Women 2.0 and Lean Startup Machine (where is he also a judge). To see where Jeremy is now check him out at (1) http://linkedin.com/in/TheProductGuy and (2) http://TheProductGuy.com