Finding the Right Job for Your Product* by Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, Gerald Berstell and Denise Nitterhouse (available online for a limited time only). The article has a very simple point. Customers buy your product or service to fill some specific need or desire. Knowing what need the customer is filling can help you improve your offering. Knowing what job the customer is using your product for lets you focus on improving your product for that market. The article provides several examples.
The basic idea is familiar: customer focus, specifically see how your customers uses your product (there might well be several market segments that use your products in different ways – to do different jobs in the words of the article).
Related: articles by Clayton Christensen – Customer Un-focus – What Could we do Better? – Genchi Genbutsu is the lean term for the concept going to see with your own eyes: go and see the customer actually use the product, don’t just listen to what they say – Quality Conversation with Gary Convis – management improvement articles
* broken link removed. Sadly MIT isn’t even up to kindergarden web management standards – the broke their web link. It is sad organizations with so much cash can’t even avoid the basic web management failures identified over a decade ago. Truly astounding how poorly managed this organization that seeks to tell other people how to manage is. Then have lots of cash given to them to pay smart people like Clayton Christensen to create good content but then waste the value they can add to the world with lousy management.
It also is another example of lots of fancy talk isn’t really what is needed in most cases. Just do basic stuff identified decades ago. MIT seems to focused on fancy new ideas while failing to even do a mediocre job applying decades old simple guidance. MIT has lots of great content (hire lots of smart people with donations and so would anyone) but is highly biased toward fancy, smart sounding stuff rather than just doing what anyone that pays attention could find in decades old material.