Switch Workshop: Progress Making Forces

Thanks to 37signals and the Re-Wired Group for hosting the Switch Workshop in Chicago last week. Jason, Bob, and Chris introduced us to the Jobs-to-be-Done framework and explored what makes us buy the products and services we buy.

Buyers always switch from one product to another. For example, Facebook users didn’t engage in new social behavior; they simply switched from using the phone and email to using Facebook.

In a nutshell, the #JTBD framework focuses on four “progress making” forces. I’ll use Michael Bleigh’s recently funded Divshot as an example.

Two forces drive change:

  • Push of situation. “We need a better solution. Static wireframes aren’t getting it done.”
  • Magnetism of the new solution. “Divshot has drag-and-drop, and exports to HTML & CSS? Awesome!” This force is incredibly motivating for engineers.

Two countervailing forces block change:

  • Anxiety of the new solution. “If I move to this platform will it do all the things I need? Will it be around next year?”
  • Habit of the present. “I may not love Balsamiq for wireframes, but I already know it.”

Divshot has a low barrier to entry and the people who purchase it are also the people likely to actually use it (designers and engineers). If it turns out you don’t enjoy building your UI in the browser you can always go back to your previous tool. Thus, the “anxiety of the new solution” isn’t a big impediment to adoption. For bigger purchases such as custom enterprise software—especially when the purchasing manager and the user are not the same person—overcoming a manager’s anxiety of the new solution can be the greatest challenge to seeing your software adopted.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what we learned in the workshop. Next week I’ll blog about fundamental timelines and interview techniques that will fit perfectly with your existing user interview process. Jason Fried, Bob Moesta, and Chris Spiek are exceptional hosts and teachers. If you have a chance to attend a Switch workshop, it’s worth your time.