Book Review: The Statue in the Stone

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.

Health & Happiness for All
Andrew