Mary Poppins was a Product Strategist

“In ev’ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

And ev’ry task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that

A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-own
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way”

Long before Clay Christensen penned his book “The Innovator’s Solution” in 2003, good ole Mary Poppins was singing about focusing on jobs-to-be-done.

The premise of the “Jobs to be done” framework is that you should focus on what users are trying to achieve, and then focus your efforts on helping them do so. This involves deeper customer understanding but can prevent a company from getting caught up in feature focus (particularly emulating competitor’s features). This can help an organization understand the scope of substitute products or services beyond a particular industry.

fun in every job
So what makes Mary Poppins a strategist? Who doesn’t recall “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down?”. She understood what needed to happen, and focused on alleviating the barriers preventing them from happening. Her explicit focus was on making the tasks more enjoyable, but fans of the movie will recall the toys putting themselves away as a nice trick of automation in the playroom.

The job of the strategist is not simply to ask customer what she wants, and give it to her. That puts the onus on the customer to even KNOW the best way to achieve her goals. Rather, the strategist should seek to understand what the customer is trying to achieve, how she does this now, and what roadblocks she has along the way. The strategist should then seek out ways to better help. The focus is not on distracting the customer from what she’s trying to achieve by selling her something, rather it’s on providing her something to facilitate the work she is already doing.

So what are the jobs your users need to achieve, and how can you make this easier/more enjoyable for them?

Through deep customer insights about what jobs your customers need to have done, you can deliver a solution that’s ‘practically perfect in every way’.

(Further reading: Six steps to put Christensen’s jobs to be done theory into practice)