Customers, What Job?

Customers hire for jobs to be done. Before Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman starred in MythBusters they were commercial—literally commercials—artists. They’d work with major brands to create effects that featured the product Du Jour. 

In his book, Every Tool is a Hammer, Adam Savage writes about one particularly difficult job for Toys “R” Us. They’d contracted for a certain effect over a series of commercials but it just wasn’t working. Savage wrote, “When it came time to set it up for filming, a key component exploded into three separate pieces. It was immediate obvious to Jamie and me that the rig was DOA.”

According to the letter of the contract, Jamie and Adam failed and could have been fired, but that’s the letter. Toys “R” Us didn’t hire them for an exact effect so much as for their expertise creating effects. As forty plus people stopped work but the budget didn’t Savage wrote this:

“Jamie’s response to this incredible pressure was both surprising and inspiring. He didn’t show any emotion, neither perturbation nor anger, not even nonchalance. He just calmly looked a the producer and said: ‘To get this done by the end of the day I figure we have three options...’ Then he carefully laid out three brand-new solutions, complete with the pros and cons for each as they related to the original storyboard.”

Jamie understood the job he was hired to do. If a business understands the deeper reasons they can offer different solutions.

Businesses earn sustainable profits when they serve customers. The first part of that is being efficient, the second part is offering a solution for a job to be done. Sometimes that’s found in what people Say, Do, Buy, or Click. Sometimes that’s in what people answer, but not always because buyers can be liars. One way to think about it is shopping or buying experiences. Another way to be creative with a different “effect” that might really work.