Unpacking the Progress Making Forces Diagram
This week we talk through one of the tools that we use as we try to find Jobs-To-Be-Done: The Progress Making Forces Diagram.
This diagram is used to understand the forces that are at play when a consumer seeks to make progress (by purchasing a product or service).
Each force is unpacked and discussed in detail:
- The Push of the Current Situation
- The Pull of the New Solution
- The Anxiety of the New Solution
- The Allegiance to the Current Situation
We also discuss how the Progress Making Forces diagram is used in conjunction with JTBD interviews, and take a deep dive into interviewing techniques that we use to tease out forces such as the anxiety that consumers have about the new solution.
Use the diagram below to follow along with the discussion. Also, feel free to use this diagram as you see fit (without altering the diagram to remove the Copyright or Re-Wired logo).
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All right, this is Doug Crets and we’re back finally two Jobs-to-be-Done Radio. We’ve done about three weeks worth of these and we’ve got a really cool show this time. We’ve got partner Bob Moesta and his partner Chris Spiek talking about the Progress Making Forces diagram many of you have called in and e-mailed us about. Asking, “What does that look like? What do these forces mean? What are they?”
We’re going to just kick it off with having Bob tell us what are these forces and how do they figure into the whole Jobs-to-be-Done theory. Then we’ll take it from there.
Chris: Hey, Bob, before you get started.
Chris: Before you get started I want to say for people that are listening, if they want to see this in front of them while you talk, go to www.TheReWiredGroup.com and then on the top menu bar you will see The Blog. From there you can find the Jobs-to-be-Done Radio Posts and we will post that image so people can actually take a look at it as you’re talking through it. Go ahead. I just wanted to inject that.
Bob: As methods and tools have been evolving over time, this diagram is really what has been in my head the whole time. How do you see and find the jobs?
It’s the foundations of Jobs-to-be-Done in the context of it. We’ve talked about the different ways in which people consume and how they are pushed and pulled and why they don’t consume. It’s really an engineer’s way of looking at the market.
To me, it really helps us understand where we need to design and figure out things when people go to switch or go to make progress.
The big way to look at it is going from left to right across the screen. If I am going to the left it’s more like “business as usual” and I’m not making “progress.” In the middle is the person who is trying to make “progress” and it’s like, “Am I really going to make ‘progress’ or not?”
Any time that they are struggling, to me, the struggling it’s like the seed of innovation. Where people struggle to do something it’s like they care about it, they want to do something different. There is something being pulled there. It’s like that struggle, that conflict is the fundamentals of, to me, it’s innovation.
Doug: And then…?
Bob: This diagram really outlines how we break down those forces.
Doug: You break them down into about, it looks like four parts. There’s F1 which is the “Push Of The Situation.”
Doug: There’s F2 which is the “Magnetism Of The New Solution.” There is F3 which is a pull, it looks like, that’s a “Habit Of The Present.” And then, F4 is also kind of a pull which is like the “Anxiety Of The New Solution.”
Chris or Bob, do you want to take us through at what stage does each of these happened? Do they happen one after the other or is this something that is all happening at once in that struggle that you are talking about?
Bob: I think it’s an accumulation over time. It’s almost like a timing diagram that at some point the forces build up. Again, in different situations you end up deciding or choosing when you actually do something or not do something. To me, it’s that.
Chris, do you want to walk through the forces?
Chris: Yeah, we can walk through them.
I do want to make a couple of points, too. One is this is one tool of many that we use when we interview and tease out jobs. I think it’s important. We can talk through the four forces, then I think it might be important for us to take some time to talk about how this particular device connects to things like the Timeline that we use when we are conducting interviews and other devices that we use as well. So we can give people an understanding of how to employ it.
So why don’t you go ahead, while you talk through…? Let’s talk through the four. Go ahead and talk through “Push” and then we’ll talk through how the light bulb kind of ties into that as well.
Bob: I think the best way to do it is through a story of some sorts. I think, again, we tend to use the housing one as our standard reference chart because we can talk about it. We can also talk about cell phones and some other things.
For the most part, almost all change starts with a “push” of some sort. It’s a push of whatever you’re doing isn’t working. It’s in a situation, it’s been an occasion, it has a location and current things going on and saying, “This isn’t good enough.”
Part of it is you might not know what to do but you know what you are doing isn’t working. Part of it is there’s always in any kind of “switching” situation there is always some kind of “push.” I would say not always, but the thing is that “push force” is really a big thing to try to understand.
It is where, “We’re having a baby. We’ve only got three bedrooms. This is our third kid. The oldest is going to be going to school soon. We need to move.” Life in this house is not going to work or it’s going to be really, really different when this baby comes and all these things. “I know we can do better. I know we can move.”
There’s all this notion of it’s not the fact that they know where to go, they just know that they need to move.
In the cell phone side the push is, “I’m getting dropped. My battery’s really low. People are doing all these other things and I’m falling behind.” There’s a situational context that’s pushing them to say, “I need a new phone.” They don’t know what phone, but it’s like, “What I have isn’t working.”
Really being able to understand those forces, again, those forces from a physical, or a functional perspective, from a social perspective, and from an emotional perspective.
A lot of times we will do youth cases and we’ll do a lot of the functional side of things. A lot of this force here is, you think about it as energy. There is some amount of energy that is tied up in the functional side, but a lot of cases there is more energy tied up in the emotional side.
Chris, do want to add anything to that?
Chris: No. I think it’s good.
You can kind of classify that top left quadrant of the diagram as all of the information the consumer either has or is gathering over time about the current situation they are in that’s triggering them to say, “There’s something better out there. I need to go seek a new solution. I need to make progress. I have all of this information about where I am now and I am conscious of the fact it is not going to work in the future.”
Bob: But that by itself doesn’t allow you to make progress. The whole thing is even though you know you need to change. Okay, “We have global warming. Here’s all the data and here’s everything.” It’s like, “What do I have to do?”
Well, if I don’t know what to do, I can’t make progress. I might know that I have to make progress but if I don’t know what I’m going to go do or what’s the alternative, I actually can’t make progress. That brings in that second force.
Chris: The top right section of the quadrant is the “pull” of the new situation.
Talk a little bit about how do people come to understand there is a different way available? There’s something that they can do differently to make progress in their life that’s actually going to pull them towards this light bulb or pull them toward your solution.
Bob: The important aspect of this one is really the concept of the new way, which is the light bulb, whether it’s a product or a service. They have an image of their new life in the new home so it’s like they start to craft in their mind what’s possible. That creates a “pull” into the future of, “Okay, here’s what I can go do.”
The more it becomes concrete, then the more that they can actually then make choices to make progress.
Again, there might be no “push.” Let’s say my cell phone is perfectly fine but the new iPhone 4GS or 4S comes out and it’s like, “Oh my gosh. It does all these other things.” I don’t think there’s much of a “push” but it’s so much “magnetism” to it that it’s like, “I’ve got to go buy it.”
Chris: So, “My life isn’t bad now, but it would be so much better and I would be able to do so many different things with this new device.” It’s “pulling” me towards it.
Bob: Right. What you find is some people are “pulled” to make progress and some people are “pushed” to make progress. It usually the combination of the two that you need to be able to understand.
Again, you might have “anxiety” about your current situation, but that new thing is really about what your life can be with having that in it. You find that it’s at most an aspirational kind of, “Wow, what’s life going to be like if I had an iPhone 4S?” Or, “I have a new laptop?” Or, “I have a new house?”
You find that in the home business people love models. We would build models all the time. It cost us a fortune to do it. It would be the way in which to get people to see very concretely what their life could be like living in this house.
The hard part is we decorated so well and so over-the-top that in a lot of cases it wouldn’t match what their life would be like. They could see what it would be like. We would create the “magnetism” of the new home, of what their new life could be like, by creating a model, a home that we decorate.
Chris: That actually leads well into the bottom right which is the “anxiety.”
Chris: There is a possibility of decorating a home so well that you actually create some “push” in the opposite direction because they’re in a situation where, “Not only do I have to buy this home, but I’m going to have to buy $30,000 worth of furniture to make it look like this. If I don’t, what’s the home going to look like?”
Bob: Right. Right, that’s exactly right.
What you end up with are situations where people would say, “Boy, this looks really nice. My furniture would like crap in here.” You’d end up creating these situations where, as much as you would make it concrete, the fact is, you would actually create anxiety which would be a hindering force to making progress.
Which is to say, “Yeah, I could afford the house, but I can’t afford all the furniture to make it look like this. I’m not sure that I want to have this halfway.”
One of the things that we started to include was we would include furniture as an option. It’s pretty interesting.
The thing is, with every solution, it’s like this is the dark side of the world. What happens is that most people won’t talk about the barriers, but this is where what we call “nonconsumption,” where people want to buy, but they don’t.
Part of it is really being able to understand that anxiety and the nonconsumption aspect. What’s holding them back from buying?
It’s these two forces, both the “Habit Of The Present” which is their comfort, their familiarity and everything like that. More importantly, it’s the anxiety of the new solution. There’s so much anxiety around, “Well, what might you do with this?” Or, “Is this really going to work?” What things do they wrestle with?
Part of it is being able to understand how do they choose and what is the anxiety they have as they look at different new concepts to get there?
It’s the anxiety that is usually one of the hidden forces that’s out there that hold people back but you don’t realize it. The best example of that is on the real estate side is when we were talking to people about the timeline.
“Why did you need to move? What was going on? When did you think about it?” We would walk through the whole thing. You would get the “push” of the situation. “We’re getting older. We can’t keep the house up. It’s bigger than we need. We want to travel some more.”
They’d have all these things. They’d see our condo. They would love our condo. It would take them five years between that first thought and actually buying the condo. You’d be like, “What’s going on?”
As you started to detail it, you’d realize that there were two main anxieties that they had that they had no way to manage. They literally weren’t actively dealing with it and when we actively did it, it helped them a ton.
The first one was the dining room table. In the condos everybody said, “Well, we’re not going to entertain. We don’t want a big dining room table. We want a small dining area for maybe another couple or whatever.” At the same time they had their own dining room table.
What you would find is that if one of the kids wasn’t going to take it or a relative wasn’t going to take it, they weren’t going to move. It turns out that it was the emotional bank account of every holiday, every birthday…
Doug: Birthday, get together. Yeah.
Chris: All that stuff. What we ended up doing was I end up making a smaller bedroom, making a larger dining area. Taking the model and putting in an old 70s chunky furniture in it and increased sales 17%. Now they could see that even though they said they didn’t want it, the anxiety was, “Well, what am I going to do with it?”
We were literally waiting for people to come for other people to figure out how they were going to take it. They would never give it to Goodwill. They would never put it in the basement. Again, it was a very important item to them.
Doug: It was cherished.
Chris: Yeah, it was very cherished. It was one of those things that whether it was an antique are not, it really didn’t matter. It was more about the fact that, “We sat around this table for the last 25 years eating dinner or having holidays.”
That was one of them where when we did that we increased sales because we help people figure out a place to put their dining room table.
Doug: This always reminds me, whenever we talk about this stuff. Explain a little bit about how it’s often the new product “feature” is actually something that’s in the consumer’s mind. It’s not actually something that really you can sort of make different in an existing product. Right?
You are basically taking your information about what you can offer from someone’s emotional experience with the product or not having the product.
Doug: But not something like they want a house. Maybe, “If we made beige walls rather than blue, it would be more attractive.” Could you explain what’s different there?
Bob: The other thing is we only talk to people who have actually consumed. The whole thing is being able to understand these moments where they are blocked. Where they have anxiety and where they struggle to make progress.
All right, if you have the first thought to move and you didn’t move for five years, there’s got to be some lines of progress or struggle that you’ve done over that five years.
Chris: So, how do you, Bob… But let’s stay on the topic. We’ve started to introduce the Timeline and the energy and how we actually will conduct an interview. Usually it’s not while the interview is being conducted but probably immediately following that interview, actually sketching out these forces. Saying, “Okay, let’s just sit here and banter back and forth and talk about what was the push? What was the pull of the new idea? How did they gather information about that new idea? What was holding them back?
This is how we actually get the job by filling in these spaces…
Doug: …and what we call the energy user dimensions. I want to get right to it.
You can’t sit there in front of the couple that bought the home six months and say, “What was the anxiety that was holding you back from consuming?” You’d just get blank stares.
What kind of question would you ask if people want to go and actually conduct this and find out what anxiety exists around their products and purchases? How do you tease that out? Is it something that you can provide insight into?
Bob: Yeah. To me, what’s interesting is that every time we try to help people with this the first time around, they always think you’re trying to customer satisfaction surveys. We want to talk to people who bought or used to the product or have just switched from the product or switched from your product or to your product. Whatever the competitor set that you defined is and it’s looking at switching. People want to know how satisfied you were and whatever.
What we’re really trying to get to is, “From your first thought to actually choosing it and using, it tell us the path?” It’s almost like you’re trying to look for the flow of energy.
“How did you make a decision and what was the value proposition in your head when you said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to buy that phone,’ or, ‘buy that house,’ or, ‘buy that candy bar’? What else did you consider while you were doing it and why didn’t you do it faster because at some point if you knew you wanted back at three o’clock but you didn’t buy it until seven, what happened?”
It’s looking for those struggles. Most the time the struggles aren’t functional struggles, they are emotional struggles or social struggles. It’s trying to make sure that you cover the complete aspect of, I’ll say, the energy.
The way I look at it is, I’m an electrical engineer. In electrical engineering there is electricity, of course, and there’s the flow of electrons and some of that. There’s also when you wrap something with a bunch of wire you create a magnetic field. All of a sudden you have completely different forces at play.
I believe the consumer is the same way. That we can see the functional side but you got to see the emotional side. As we go through this timeline these are the ways in which we kind of look at and say, “Where’s the tipping point? At what point did you say, ‘I was going to go’? What did you either tell yourself or what did you find or what happened that either made the forces up top get bigger or make the forces on the bottom get smaller, that forced the flip?”
Doug: So basically anything…
Chris: So this is where…
Doug: Anything that’s blocking the flow is where you can find the new product, basically.
Bob: That’s right. Any struggling moment is the seed for innovation.
Doug: Got it.
Chris: So this is also where it’s important to have… It’s like you have your kid gloves on when you are interviewing. You want to be able to be sure to fill in all those gaps. It’s a really important aspect of it. People will say, “We started looking and then the year went by. We got busy and we really didn’t buy a house. Then we started looking again. We found one that we wanted.”
You need to be able to dance up and down the timeline. You can’t sit there and pry. You have to be able to say, “Tell me about this year gap. What made you stop looking or if you went back into the passive mode, tell us what was going on?” It’s like they’re hidden gems in those moments. People will not consciously just skip over. “Well, we had other stuff going on so we didn’t look.”
There’s something else happening there.
Bob: Those are great. That’s a great example, Chris. Because when people say, “Something else was going on.” The first thing is you have to realize whatever was going on was more important than moving.
As much as they had the first thought, you now can actually put it relative to whatever else was going on which is, there’s something in the house happened, some job opportunity happened. Whatever it was you need to realize that the delay wasn’t because of a hindrance. The delay was because of something else that was going on and it just fell down the list. It’s more about, kind of thinking about there’s only so much energy and they poured the energy into something else and it came back.
At some point, why not buy it immediately? It’s that whole aspect of trying to map that thing out.
The other thing is after our interviews when we lay this out, Chris. You and I will sit there and say, “This is all the things they talked about. They never said anything about this.” It’s like you think there’s a big missing hole. Sometimes there are things about what they didn’t say that could be as equally important as what they do say.
Bob: Right? Remember the interview with the lady where she mentioned everything about the guy that built the second house, was a banker. He knew the risk of building the second house. He mentioned once about his wife and her bad back problem.
All she talked about was how good the personal laundry was and then the Ranch. It was exactly the house they wanted. This guy was bearing everything around just making sure his wife wasn’t in pain because of the way that their old house was laid out, she was in pain every day because of having to go up and down those stairs.
You only got a little glimpse of it and they never really talked about it again. Everything else they talked about was how she didn’t have to go up and down stairs, but they never said, “Oh, I love it because it’s a Ranch.” They loved it because of all the other things that make life easier. You know what I mean?
Chris: We had to conclude that it was a Ranch.
Again, consumers don’t know what they want and in a lot of cases, they are not going to tell you what it is but you have to find those little gems. Like the dining room table, somebody asked me the other day.
“Okay, how you find a dining room table?” It’s one of those things after about the fourth interview and it came up three of the four times. You’re like, “There’s something here.” So you had to be able to dig into it.
Doug: This always reminds me that sometimes we can sit in the product development side or whatever so the company and think, “Oh, consumers like us because of this, this, and this.” But if you asked a salesman how people consume, you also find in these experiences that you get to talking about the car or you get to talking about the shoe, and the consumer or the customer at one point will just start going off about, “I went to a football game once and I blah blah blah. And I said this. We were sitting on the bed of my pickup and we’re drinking beer and talking about this. Nolan Ryan came by and started talking to us about blah blah blah.”
You start realizing within the story that person is telling is really the relationship they have with the product and it’s the relationship that they are bringing to their search for the new product.
Bob: That’s right.
Doug: Tt never has anything that you can really, really put into an advertisement or a marketing piece.
Doug: It’s usually something that’s more an emotional… And maybe I’m wrong, but that’s kind of the sense I’m getting. It’s kind of the salesman way of looking at the world.
Bob: That’s right. It’s a good way to come. It is a salesman’s way to look at the world. A good salesman is going to ask the questions. “Why are you buying?” Which is a push. “Why now? What else are you looking at? How are you going to make the choice? What’s the trade-offs? What’s the negotiations you’re making?”
What’s happening is marketing is about the push of the information to help people make decisions. The negotiations of what to do is left now back to the consumer because there is no salesman involved.
So, if it’s all self-service, we now have a different issue where the negotiation is in the consumer’s head, and that’s really what this is about, trying to unpack that.
Chris: I will say that even though you hear the story about tailgating and that sort of thing, it w be really unique and it will have all kinds of tolerant context to it, but when you do a couple of those interviews in a row, you’ll find that these people are not alone in the value code that they use to select the product.
Chris: Every story might be unique but the underlying trend of how people define value will be you will find groups and that’s how you get to your marketing and advertising.
Bob: It gets back to why this is one of the foundations. People will tell you very colorful stories but ultimately what you are looking for is the energy and how much energy they spent to make progress and how they overcame the anxiety and the habit of the present. What was it about the push of the situation and the new solution that made them choose that over something else.
What happens is people get caught up in the color of the story and, I’ll say, 80% of the stuff that’s said is not useful. It’s the 20% that describe the energy, and effort, and the progress that people are making. That’s where the gold is. Most people end up focusing on that 80% set of attributes. “Oh, it was blue, it was serillian blue. Oh, we’ve got to get with serillian blue because that’s the next color.” These are trend setters.
So we would ask questions about attributes. We would say, “How did that help?” and fling it. “What about serillian blue made them make the progress?” You know what I mean?
It’s really very, very different kinds of conversations. You’re almost listing with a different ear are looking with a different lens on every story.
I’ll say it like this. The customer’s satisfaction or the product attribute story they hear about.
Chris: This actually might set us up pretty well for doing another show coming up about interviewing techniques.
As you started to tell the story about the guy and his wife that moved into the Ranch, I think it brings up a lot of good points that we could relay to the listeners about how to interview.
It’s also interesting to say that we focus so much on slowing down time and using that timeline to say, “Help me fill in this gap.” And “Help me fill in this gap,” and really having the person slow down.
I’ve got to say, I don’t know what the statistic is, I got to pick 50%, 60%, 70% of the time, when you conclude the interview, the person who you are talking to will actually say, “I’ve never thought about the decision that I made in such granular detail.” It’s almost eye opening for the consumer.
Everybody usually leaves those interview, “Man, this is so cool. I completely understand why did this and why I did that.”
Chris: It’s like, it brings such resolution to how they make decisions even though you are not telling them a lot about why you’re asking the questions, they just get such clarity in their decision-making process. It’s like, “Wow, this all really makes sense now.”
Bob: Before we go though I just want to make sure we cover the last one, which is the “Habit Of The Present.” I don’t think we got to that one.
Doug: Yeah, F4.
Bob: In a lot of cases, I just want to make sure people understand. That’s the one that’s the comfort one. That’s the one most people would say it’s like lazy.
It really is the emotional energy attached to what they already do. It’s really about how comfortable. They are proportional between the “push” of the situation and the “habit of the present.” You will find that there is just a fundamental conflict, “I know that this is stupid and I shouldn’t be doing this, but, I’m just comfortable with what I have.”
Part of it is being able to understand what’s comfortable about it and to help them play out and switch the energy from the comfort up to the push of the situation.
“What if you keep doing this? What’s going to happen?” Part of it is being able to understand and attack those different ways in which to help people understand how to cut that force or reduce the energy of that force of the “habit of present.”
There’s a lot of information and the ways you can go and selling and marketing techniques you can go after that. To me it’s a very important force to make sure you understand because if that is really strong, it doesn’t matter the push and the pull and the anxiety, you’re not going to break it.
So you need to really understand it. The other thing is, for example, if they have been using Tide forever and there’s really no reason. No push or pull, push to do it. “Hey, I’ve got a really great cleaning solution to it that’s got enzymes and it and all this other stuff.”
There’s no anxiety but the fact that there, because there is no push, I don’t care how bright the light bulb is, you’re not going to break that “habit of the present.” There’s nothing wrong with it. And you need to understand how strong it is.
So the best product in the world won’t get sold. Not because it’s not the best product in the world. It’s only because the “habits of the present” is so strong and there are very little forces of the push that they don’t even create anxiety because they don’t think about it.
Doug: There you go.
Chris: It’s like the often neglected area.
Bob: Yeah, that’s right.
Chris: It’s like for better or for worse the advertisers and marketers and really all of us inherently want to talk about the features and benefits of our product.
That all falls typically in the top two quadrants of the diagram. You’re trying to make people’s lives better. You’re trying to pull people through.
It’s almost like we neglect what’s actually holding them back either because we just subconsciously don’t want to think about those things or we don’t have the tools or mechanisms to really unpack them and understand them completely.
Doug: I would like to just say really quickly that I’ve been in a sales/marketing/content development position in an events company and it seems to me that you might be aware of that tension of the present but you ignore it purposefully sometimes because internally the company doesn’t want to afford to make that change.
Also, I think a lot of the anxiety and a lot of the ambition of the actual sales and marketing team internally is driven by wanting to please or wanting to be accepted by the management of the company. I don’t know if that gets into a whole different can of worms but you are often just talking to yourselves when you think that you are talking to your consumers.
Bob: That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Doug: I think that’s something to be aware of. I think when we talk about this next time, I don’t know, Chris. What do you want to do with what we have worked through here? We’ve seemed to…
Bob: Let me have one point.
Doug: Yeah, go ahead.
Bob: The housing business, everybody kept thinking that it was a fun business because people really love to build a house. After doing all the interviews and everything, you realize that we weren’t in the building business, we were in the moving business. Helping people move from one house to the next.
Bob: The notion that was that nobody, there wasn’t one person I interviewed who wanted to move. Meaning, they were looking forward to it. It was all a fear based, negative, “I can’t live in this situation anymore.”
There was never a positive, “Oh boy, I want to move because this is just the great thing to do.” There was always the negative thing was always wrapped around it. Part of it is being able to understand those negative moments where everybody’s trying to say, “Moving is fun!”
It’s like, okay, you can make it “funer” or more fun, but the reality is the reason why they are moving is because they are afraid of something or afraid of what their life is going to be like if they don’t. Trying to understand what are the driving mechanisms behind why people buy into this middle. So, that’s it. Next topic.
Doug: Got it. So, what are we going to do next time Chris?
Chris: We have a bunch of topics. Let’s see what unfolds. I know we wanted to talk about some of the jobs and education. I guess I would like to hear from the listeners. I would like to talk a little bit more about interviewing protocols and how we set those up.
Let’s see what the week unfolds and go from there.
Doug: Okay guys. Thanks for all the time. It’s been a great time again. Thanks.
Bob: Thank you. See you, Doug.
Chris: Thanks, Doug. Bye.