Monday, December 5, 2011

Jobs and Jobs

In Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson mentions how deeply Jobs was influenced by Christensen's book The Innovator's Dilemma.  But there's another point of intersection between Jobs and Christensen. 

Clayton Christensen has popularized the notion of organizing yourself by considering Jobs to be Done.  Think of customers as people who hire your product to get a job done.  No one wants a 3/4" drill; they want a 3/4" hole.  Christensen advocates organizing your market research around understanding what jobs people need to get done, and to designing your products around getting those jobs done.

The Apple stores were designed around Christensen's idea of Jobs to be Done (although that connection is not explicitly mentioned by Isaacson).

Here's how it happened.  Jobs had decided that in order to control the entire customer experience, Apple had to have retail stores.  The board thought he was crazy.  Jobs knew the way to convince them was to build a prototype store for them to see.

He recruited Ron Johnson, who had been VP for merchandising at Target, to design the stores.  By October 2000, the prototype was just about ready to unveil: a stark minimalist style, designed with Apple flair, and organized around Apple products.  But then Johnson had an epiphany and realized the store needed to organized around the jobs that people want to do, like listening to music, or managing photos.

Apple store - Tyson's Corners
 There was an explosion as Jobs recoiled from the prospect of such a major redesign.  However, after sleeping on it, Jobs knew Johnson was right, and the launch was deferred for a few months in order to get it right. 

A new prototype was built, the board was convinced, and the first Apple store opened in May 2001 in Tyson's Corners, Virginia.

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