Book Review: The Statue in the Stone Decoding Customer Motivation with the 48 Laws of Jobs-to-be-Done Philosophy By W. Scott Burleson
I was genuinely excited to get my copy of The Statue in the Stone delivered to the house. And, while I’m typically an Audible book listener, it didn’t take long to appreciate having the hard copy in hand. I came to the realization on page iv that I needed to stop and get a highlighter. In the days that passed after tearing open the Amazon package, the pages of the book have become dogeared and bleeding with yellow ink.
Some books are meant to stay on shelves to collect dust or remain invisible in a cloud based library. Other books are like references to be pulled and paged through. Liken it to a book on cooking techniques that needs to stay in or near the kitchen with processes we do often enough to reference for accuracy. Sure, we know what we’re doing here in the kitchen. We’ve done this meal before. But there’s fine details that make a good meal great, and we just want to make sure we’re not missing anything critical.
That to me is The Statue in the Stone for anyone involved in new product development, innovation, or design. Whether from marketing or engineering, this book will serve as an incredible reference for turning otherwise good work into great work.
If you’re not familiar with Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD), this should not hold you back. In fact, maybe all the more reason to pick it up. Scott does an incredible job (pun intended) of making this book accessible for someone brand new to the philosophy, and a value add to those that are experts in the field.
What is JTBD?
If you’re in medical devices and trying to define the user needs as part of the waterfall process; that’s JTBD. Maybe you’ve read Biodesign, and recall Chapter 1.3 on Need Statement Development. That’s JTBD.
Maybe you are a product manager and familiar with the idea of pragmatic marketing. Yup. JTBD. Here’s a few more to think about:
Engineers defining the problem to be solved
Marketers defining positioning statements
Marketers and Engineers collaborating to ensure value propositions are captured from the voice of customer and designed into solutions
Anything related to “User Centered Design”
This is all JTBD Philosophy.
If you’re interested in questions like:
What are your goals?
What outcomes do you wish for?
What are your most pressing needs?
What are your biggest pain points?
That’s right. Needs to be Filled, Goals to be Achieved, Outcomes to be Delivered, Benefits to be Experienced, Desires to be Met, Objectives to be Targeted, and Problems to be Solved are all Jobe to be Done.
In all fairness, I’m a “Needs to be Filled” kind of guy. My first introduction to the philosophy was as a young design engineer in the medical device industry. There, we have unmet medical needs. This distinction in jargon and associated lexicon are both important and unimportant. Huh? If we only focus on the differences and have disparity of doing things, then maybe it’s critically important to be aware of the jargon and the barrier it is creating. However, once we accept there are differences, the disparity becomes the diversity of perspective to better understand the underlying principles are sound. We can learn from each other and the language no longer matters.
I may like to cook Pasta with Gravy. Maybe you like to cook Noodles with Sauce. Indeed, both of our Italian renditions will have similarities and differences. If invited to spend an evening with a family member and they are showing us how they make their Spaghetti with Marinara, the nuance of the language doesn’t matter. The fact that mine has meat involved and the theirs does not, also, doesn’t matter. What matters is the underlying principles of making a great Italian dish that we can learn from each other. When I go home, I’m still making Pasta with Gravy, only better.
And so after reading Scott’s brilliant work, I’ll still call them Needs and not necessarily refer to them as Jobs. The book is raw, fresh, and focused on principles over polish. It is asking to be bookmarked, folded, underlined, highlighted, and even corrected. It opens up the reader for debate, reflection, and ultimately deeper understanding of a philosophical principle to bring peace to all mankind.
When social distancing ends, I plan to hug again. I’ll shake hands too, and don’t plan on wearing a mask. Why?
In order to beat Covid, we need herd immunity. Does this mean all this social distancing was for no reason? Nope, social distancing and wearing masks today is not an attempt to stop herd immunity, just slow it down (see my last post: Social Distance for More Better Care).
Social distancing has a purpose. It is to slow down a virus for which there’s no vaccine and for which herd immunity does not yet exist. It is to avoid overwhelming a healthcare system that cannot handle a year of capacity in two months.
Hugging also has a purpose. In addition to making a meaningful connection between beings (I say beings because animals hug too!), hugging improves our immune system. Passing germs is the only way to gain herd immunity.
Indeed! We need both! Social distancing AND hugging.
Two years ago before we ever heard of a Covid, did I social distance AND hug. Yes! Of course, we have all likely chosen to socially distance in the past.
Two years ago, What if I had come into contact with someone who had the flu? What if I wasn’t showing symptoms? I would have held off on visiting my immunocompromised mother for a couple of weeks.
Social distancing has always been smart when wanting to avoid spread of an illness to an at risk population. There’s other times that it makes sense too. Stay home when you’re sick so as to not infect the whole office or school. If an athlete manages to get his whole team sick at the same time, it could wreck the season.
Social distance so that the whole team doesn’t get sick at the same time. AKA – Flatten the Curve. If a team flattens the curve, the odds of any one player getting sick doesn’t change, but they won’t all get it at the same time. Flatten the curve and Win.
Please social distance so healthcare providers can see MORE patients and save MORE lives. Yes. MORE. And that’s a GOOD thing.
Social distancing helps flatten the curve. That is, the odds of getting the virus don’t change. But the odds of surviving the virus DO change.
It’s not about IF getting the virus. It’s about WHEN getting the virus.
Social distancing is not about protecting ourselves from getting the virus. Social distancing is about slowing down the spread of the virus.
A flat curve means everyone that gets the virus gets care. A flat curve means that MORE patients get care. A flat curve means health care providers are more rested, focused, and properly protected and able to give BETTER care. A flat curve means need-a-bed, get-a-bed. It means need-a-ventilator, get-a-ventilator.
If you sold pizzas and your maximum capacity was to produce 100 pizzas a day. To get a new oven will be at least one week from now. But, you need all the customers you can get to afford that new oven. Would you rather get 700 customers today and only sell 100 pizzas? OR, would you rather get 100 customers today, 100 tomorrow, and 100 every day for the full week? By the end of one week, you will have sold 700 pizzas and next week, you’ll be ready to sell 200 pizzas a day. Flatten the curve. Sell MORE pizzas.
Flatten the curve so that the healthcare system can serve MORE patients. Flatten the curve so that the healthcare system can have the time it needs to build capacity.
I wouldn’t be adding to the deluge of opinions on Covid-19 if I weren’t honestly attempting to add value. I also want to start by saying that global, federal, state, and local leaders, both from the public and private sector, that have decision making authority with public safety implications are in a tough spot. I don’t envy their jobs. Lastly, people are reacting differently to Covid-19 and I just want to encourage respect for all people in dealing with this global health crisis.
At the end of the day, this post is intended to be helpful for all people interested in slowing down the spread of Covid-19.
Indeed, canceling events and self-quarantines will likely save lives.
BUT, should we be canceling ALL events?
Yesterday was a personal test of higher order thinking:
Major sporting events and seasons were canceled and/or postponed. My reaction was that this sucked for everyone involved, players and fans, but ultimately was sound thinking.
My mother was put in a rehab facility that is quarantining all of their patients from any visitors. No family members, loved ones, nor friends can visit. The sad reality of the elderly passing away alone in nursing homes became very real. My reaction was that this was beyond sad. But it is also sound thinking as tough as a decision this is to make.
My son’s high school baseball season was postponed, including all practices. My reaction? This is negligent.
“Negligent”??? Sure, the response is strong. It was my honest reaction.
As a Professor, I take seriously teaching our youth critical thinking skills and higher order thinking. So, when having reactions like these, I need to take my own medicine. I need to do the homework and do that critical thinking.
#FlattenTheCurve is sound judgement to slow the spread of Covid-19 and spare a crippling effect on our healthcare system. It is in many ways the 2nd order effects of the illness that will result in deaths not caused by the virus itself. Rather, they may be deaths due to those that need care for other reasons being denied from an overwhelmed system of care.
So, when considering a response to Covid-19, also consider the higher order impacts.
Canceling major sporting events that draw crowds in the 10s of thousands may suck. But, it is sound thinking.
Quarantining at risk populations such as the elderly in nursing homes is very sad. But, it is sound thinking.
Canceling high school sports??? Let’s think about the higher order impact.
High school student athletes are among the healthiest group of young adults. They can carry Covid-19 with little to no symptoms. They are involved in an activity that has a built in quarantine. They are a small group that spend nearly all waking hours together practicing and playing.
What happens when state and local sports associations and school districts cancel sports, including practices? What will these 15-18 year olds do with the sudden spike of free time?
A good friend of mine noted that their high school lacrosse team self quarantined in an ice cream shop.
I call it negligent behavior because those making these decisions are trying to do the right thing. But in effect what they’ve done is to reverse the built in quarantine of high school sports. Their second order impact has released a potentially contagious yet healthy group of young adults into an unusual array of locations they would otherwise not be found. This can have the opposite effect of flattening the curve of Covid-19, and instead be a contributing factor to spreading the disease.
High School Athletic Associations and Local School Districts should consider sound thinking regarding sports. Even if schools get canceled, which may or may not be sound thinking, they may want to consider keeping sports in place.
There are some sound considerations these organizations can make. Consider limiting fans to under 100 people. Consider restricting travel to teams outside of a geographic region. Consider postponing large tournaments and events that do draw the bigger crowds. Consider distancing measures, such as limiting post game handshakes. Consider hygiene measures, such as having the players bring their own personal water bottles and not sharing from a cooler.
Canceling practice? This is where negligence shines the brightest. This is an isolated space of young, healthy athletes together under the leadership of their coaches. There’s literally no better place for these young adults to be for the health and wellbeing of our own families and loved ones that are at risk of Covid-19.
Respectfully and Considering Health & Happiness for All
Bella’s wasn’t my favorite, but our only big disappointment was Slice if NY on Hillsborough. It was real dive, not in the good way, playing classical music and littered with TVs playing a combination of blank screens, corn hole, and women’s basketball (not that there’s anything wrong with that) … but NOT airing the NFL playoff game going on.
On the flip side, The Original Ruckus hands down had the best atmosphere. The rowdy crowd kept a balloon afloat while the Patriots were dominating the Chargers (with local hometown favorite at QB). Their pizza is great too … a large slice that’s a meal.
All of the pizza was good, but to Drew and me, Moonlight really stood out as the best slice in town (out of those 8). We have a lot more pizza to eat and much more data to collect.
A few years ago I was at a conference and heard a speaker speaker say:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
He attributed the quote to Mark Twain. I liked it and wanted to use it myself in future speaking engagements. Wanting to ensure I got the quote right, I researched it that night. The result was interesting … there was no record of Mark Twain ever using it.
Was the speaker being intentional?
Not long after, I noticed the quote as it appeared during the opening of motion picture, “The Big Short.”
Now that must have been intentional, right? I hope so. I can’t imagine producing a movie and accidentally using a _fake_ Mark Twain quote.
At the moment, I’m reading “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson. And here it is emerging again in Peterson’s outstanding book which dives deep into philosophy, religion, and history to devise a set of rules to manage the chaos of life. And, if everyone followed, potentially make the world a better place. I might disagree with Peterson on some points here and there throughout the book, but, on the whole, he’s hard to argue with.
This morning I had an egg sandwich for breakfast. It wasn’t any egg sandwich though.
You see, I’m visiting my parents in the town I grew up in, in the very house I grew up in. Mom’s going to be 79 soon, and Dad recently turned 80. They use everything.
When mom makes a chicken, or any meat with a bone, she’ll save the bones, and make a broth. Fat drippings, reused. Containers, zip lock bags, and most things I might call trash, they reuse.
I’m a critical thinker and I care about the environment. So I ponder questions like, “Are electric cars really better for the environment?”
Just the other day, I saw a Tesla with a vanity plate. It was something like 0EMISSIONS or ZEROEMSN or whatever it was, read out loud, “Zero Emissions.”
I wanted to meet this person and understand how they justified that claim, and in general, what they thought about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and higher order environmental impacts of the car.
What do you think about nuclear power plants, coal mines and coal energy plants, and other sources of electricity, including the waste that those plants create for our world?
What about other natural sources of energy? Solar, Wind, Waterfall? Have you considered the environmental impacts of those plants, what materials are used to construct them, capture the energy, and convert that into electricity?
What about the oil used to lubricate the components of that Tesla engine?
What about the batteries, how they are produced, and discarded, and that impact on our global environment?
What about the power exchanges from original source, through transformers and power lines all along the way, to the charging station, to the car’s battery, and then finally converted to locomotion?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. Nor do I know what is better for our environment, gas guzzlers or electric cars. What I do know is that the answer isn’t as easy as, “Zero Emissions.”
So yesterday, Mom and I went to the town’s farmers market and bought eggplant. Last night, mom and I (mostly mom), made eggplant parmesan. This consisted of flour, then egg, then frying, before layering into a dish with gravy and cheese.
There was a little egg left when we were done frying all the eggplant. Mom said, “that pan’s still hot, fry up the rest of that egg.”
“This egg that we used for the eggplant?”
“Yes. That egg.”
Wrapped up in a likely previously used plastic, I found that fried egg in the refrigerator this morning, and used it to make a breakfast sandwich.
While I’m not so certain about electric cars, recycling plants, and solar power’s total impact on our environment … I do feel pretty good about using that egg.
In 2012, I was invited to give a TEDx Talk at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel. With over 1000 people expected for their inaugural TEDxWakeForestU event, the idea of speaking in front of that many people was something I didn’t take lightly.
This talk was a defining moment for my life as a public speaker and for my craft of coaching innovation and design. With the market research and prep put into the talk, I ended up coining the process “Ideation through Enlightened Empathy” to describe the journey I was taking NC State Biomedical Engineering seniors through.
More importantly, it was recorded, watched, shared, and watched again. Some of the people that watched it would reach out to me and provide feedback, constructive criticism, counterpoints, just plain criticism, and/or ask for clarification.
I’ve changed so much since this talk, both mentally and physically, that I often wish to have the stage back to do it again. Bottom line, I learned more from giving this talk than any other … and thirst for that kind of learning.
I’ve always been a free thinking, open minded, criticism seeking person. But, I didn’t actively enter into a blog or a lecture thinking that those opportunities to share were my biggest ROI for learning. Thus the “Your Feedback Matters” on the right bar of this blog page. Today, I take every opportunity to share with others as an opportunity to learn from the resulting discussion.
So, what’s this got to do with Dad? It’s Father’s Day Morning right now, and I’m thinking about my Dad. He turned 80 this year and he’s still sharp as a tack, especially when telling “Uncle Noon” jokes.
Well, during this talk, I make a note that my first motorcycle was a 1968 BMW R60/5 and compared that to Steve Jobs’ 1966 R60/2.
“If this is all I have, a motorcycle similar to Steve Jobs, then I’ve done something right. Right?”
What I failed to mention was that my first motorcycle, that I started riding in 1990, was originally bought, brand new, by my dad. So, really, what I should have said was:
“If this is all I have, a motorcycle similar to Steve Jobs, then my dad did something right.”
Maybe that’s why I end my phrase in 2012 with a, “Right?” – a hint that something was missing.
My Dad was a pioneer in the computer industry. After graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1959, we went on to work for the US Government to help develop the computer systems behind our national security system.
As a kid, I remember dad working as a computer center director for City College of New York and bringing home punched cards that I’d fashion into roadways for matchbox cards.
I can also remember with amazing clarity the day Dad brought home the Apple IIe from work, which I subsequently spent endless hours playing on. I became an original leetspeaker where I gained elite status on the pre-internet bulletin board systems of the 80’s, allowing access to remotely located games and chat rooms. (Remind me sometime to tell you the story about my phone number up on the white board as a college professor.)
By the time I was turning 16, I grew bored with computers and was more interested in getting my hands greasy and working on cars, and learned how to rebuild engines.
At 18, I asked my dad if I could have his motorcycle. He said, “No.” At the time, it hadn’t been ridden in yeas, and was collecting cobwebs in the garage, flat tires, dead battery, and in fairly significant disrepair.
Even though he said no, I bought the shop manual for the motorcycle and proceeded to take over the garage by tearing the bike down and rebuilding it over several months.
The day I started it for him, he handed me the title.
So, Dad. Thank you for teaching me that rejection does not mean failure, and that hard work comes with rewards.