For some time now, I have struggled with the idea of an industry or business sector. They are artificial boundaries, difficult to define, impossible to accurately measure and most importantly, customers do not care about them. I believe they may also provide business leaders with an incomplete picture of ‘competitive intensity’ if all they are doing is tracking and benchmarking other businesses that look the same.
Jobs to be done theory
Customers do not think in terms of industries and only care about the most effective place to purchase an experience or outcome. Clay Christensen, the eminent Harvard professor developed the ‘jobs to be done’ theory which states that consumers who are trying to accomplish something in their lives look to ‘hire’ the product or business that best gets the job done. If he immediate job to be done is to get rid of my back pain, these are just some of the solutions I may hire. Professor Rita McGrath describes this as thinking in terms of customer ‘arenas’ rather than industries (a customer’s “job to be done” at a specific time and location.)
Think outcomes first
As businesses reopen and rebuild following the pandemic, I believe we should care less about the industry we are in and care more about the outcome the customer is seeking to achieve.