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The real 'jobs to be done'

One of the classic strategic questions that is often asked is ‘what business are we really in?’

What is our job?

This is useful because it can help us make sure we're spending our time and energy on the right things, and, into the things that people really value.

Another thought prompt that I often use is the call out that when someone buys a product like say, a power drill, it’s not the drill that they want. It’s the hole in the wall that they need.

And this can be extended to anyone’s buying decisions, they don’t really need to buy a product, it’s just the solution that they want.

In other words, it's about understanding the underlying needs or 'jobs' that customers have.

So, instead of solely selling the product, we can focus on what they value. We can also expand our perspective to provide a range of solutions.

This mindset has helped my clients to serve their customers' needs better, and, stay ahead in their market.


The 'jobs to be done'

Another mindset I like to explore is Clayton Christensen's 'Jobs-to-be-Done' theory, which suggests that people 'hire' products or services to do certain things in their lives.

For example with sports events, this theory can help us understand why individuals attend or participate. Spectators 'hire' tickets not just for entertainment but also for socialising, experiencing a sense of community or having something to belong to. Or, someone might participate in a social sport not just for the activity but also for health and fitness, stress relief, and that same sense of belonging.

This is useful because by recognising these 'jobs to be done', we can enhance the experience, offering engaging activities, and, opportunities to provide more value, thus ensuring greater attendee satisfaction and loyalty.

What's your 'job to be done'?

So this brings us back to the question of what job are our sports and activities really doing for people. What is it that they really want and need?

Providing the 'Experiences of Value'

At a base level of the experiences you must provide, there are some functional 'jobs to be done', such as the basic organisation of the participant experience, and the coordination of people to be at a time and place together. Your customers 'hire' the event to connect with like-minded people who share the same interests and passions.

On top of that, the experiences of value also show us we can provide value in the emotional sense. The job we are doing allows participants to seek and find enjoyment and excitement, hiring the event to feel more emotion, something special and different to everyday life.

Above all, the experience can also offer some aspiration and even become transformational, allowing people to become more as people, to fulfil a personal aspiration, or to live the lifestyle they seek.

And in offering this value, they want to be there and seek out the experience, again and again.

The business of experiences

As it turns out, as experience providers we are in a really strong business position in today's world.

It’s fair to say that, despite some financial struggles that many people are experiencing, we are living in a world where people are looking to spend their time and money on experiences in their lives, as opposed to just more stuff, more products and things that they don’t really need or want.

Because in today’s world, I think it’s less about the products, and even not so much about the hole in the wall, it’s now about people just wanting to live a better life.

It's about the sport, but it’s not all about the sport.


Yes, the sport or activity is at the heart of what you offer. It’s the thing people are focused on.

'Running', 'Triathlon', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Tennis', 'the Gym', this is how we label what we sell.

But people are not just looking for the 'X' sport or 'Y' activity.

Not just the event, the league, program or the membership, it is so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want to try to be too clever here.

Yes, the sports and activity is what people are seeking, and let’s keep our eye on that, but, it’s also not just about the sport, it’s about all these other jobs that people need to be done, by you.


Because, whilst yes, each sport and activity has its own point of difference, its own rules and rituals and culture around it, which makes them distinct and special, there are also some very common jobs that people are seeking across all sports activities.

It’s just a matter of understanding what ones you’re offering and making sure people realise they can achieve them with you.

And that is what I think is the job that we need to be doing.

If you need some help with that, please let me know...

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