Demands and needs versus values and beliefs. Exploring the connection with Jobs to be done.

In last Saturday’s Guardian, Alan Finlayson, wrote a very interesting piece about how elector demands should drive political parties rather than values. He suggested that a focus on defining and working with shared values missed basic “wants and don’t wants” that all citizen’s have. We want our roads fixed, jobs created or hospital queues to be shorter.  

Politics is not grounded in values but in demands.

Alan Finlayson

This made me reflect on Jobs to be Done theory again and ask myself the question of how to distinguish needs, motivations and jobs from demands.  

A demand is “a forceful expression of what is needed” (Merriam Webster); it starts with a job (functional, emotional or social need) and prioritises it as urgent or necessary.  

Jobs to be done asks us to listen to customers (or voters) to understand the underlying needs or motivations that are being expressed and to elicit jobs (by talking to customers) when trying to see how products, services or political parties might better address these needs.

Values and beliefs (shared or otherwise) don’t define needs but do help us choose between solutions. 

For example, in deciding which jobs a car might be solving for a customer we might hear “helping me get my kids to school”, “ show the success I have achieved”, “keep me safe at night” or many more.  Car companies should select jobs to prioritise when innovating around new products (new car models) or around communicating their existing products to customers.

And demonstrating the fit between the product and the need can be framed using (brand) values and projected beliefs (what brands stand for).  The needs come first.  A customer will then use the framed solutions (including the packaged values and beliefs) as ways to evaluate between solutions.

I think therefore that Alan Finlayson is right.  Focus on the urgent needs first and use values to show how well your solution fits.

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