Unpacking the Word “New”

Series 1: Episode 11 | 6 May 2022

Show notes | Transcript

“So the jobs existed, but the change to a new product did not change the jobs. It changed the solutions that were available to satisfy the jobs.”

In today’s episode of the Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg chat with Matt Sheppard, Associate and Principal at The Re-Wired Group.

  • You’ll learn why there is no such thing as a new idea.
  • Bob will talk about the knowledge that Jobs To Be Done is built on and how Dr. Deming influenced JTBD.
  • You will learn about the new book Bob is writing.

Join us for this thought-provoking discussion.

Enjoy!

 

What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • Why creating a new idea is supply-side thinking.
  • The difference between usage and attitudes and need states.
  • Has the pandemic economic crisis created new jobs?
  • Why working from home is not a job.
  • And so much more…

Resources:

Book | Demand-Side Sales 101

Hosts

Unpacking the Word “New” – Transcript

 

Matt Shepard 

The iPhone was simply a new tool that was enabled by technology advancements, for us to take those jobs and satisfy them through one device as opposed to separate devices. The jobs existed, but the change of a new product didn’t change the jobs, it changed the solutions that were available to satisfy the jobs. If you go back to a pandemic, I didn’t work from home before, that doesn’t mean that the desire to work from home did not exist before it means it didn’t exist for me. When the pandemic hit, my struggling moments changed, both from the supply side for corporations, and from the demand side for the labor. You end up saying, well, I got to figure out how to work from home, this new set of struggling moments for me, but not that they didn’t exist, they existed independently of me.

 

Bob Moesta

Welcome to the circuit breaker podcast where we challenge the status quo of innovation and new product development. We’ll talk about tools and skills and methodologies used to build better products and make you a better consumer. I’m Bob Moesta, the co-founder of the rewired group, I’m one of your co-hosts and we’re joined by Greg Engel, who is my co-founder and chief Bob interpreter. Join us as we trip the circuit, and give you time to reset, reorganize and recharge your brain to build better products.

 

Greg Engle

Hey, Bob, today we’re going to talk about some unpacking of words or statements, that we always do at the office. We did a podcast talking about how we argue a lot at the office. 

 

Bob Moesta

We argue a lot. 

 

Greg Engle

For this one, I want to introduce a new partner to argue with Matt Shepard, who is an associate of ours at the rewired group. 

 

Bob Moesta

Yes. He’s a principle as well.

 

Greg Engle

I went back and forth on what to do for this podcast. The first thing popped in my head was I want to talk to Matt about economics, which is his background and jobs done. Then something else popped into my head because we were talking about Matt’s child going to college and having to write essays. There was an interesting essay question. I’ll throw the essay question out to both you and Matt, and I’ll probably chime in as well, but I wanted to debate this essay question. I’m going to paraphrase it, I’m not going to read the whole thing, because it’s a uppity college that puts us out and they like to do long winded things so we’re just going to kind of cut to the chase.

 

Matt Shepard 

You just ruined my son’s chances of getting there.

 

Greg Engle

It’ll be fine. So Mark Twain once said, There’s no such thing as a new idea. Let’s start with you, Bob. What’s your thought on that? When you hear that, quote? What’s your first gut reaction to that?

 

Bob Moesta

My first reaction is yes, that’s true. Because everything’s built on top of something else. There is a degree of change to something but there’s always a base foundation that everything is built on. So, they’re all derivatives in there that are sometimes taking things from one industry to another industry. It seems like it’s new, but it’s been done before in some other place. There’s all these honing and refinements. The fact is that true innovation in some cases requires a new perspective on something, but it’s usually built from somewhere else. That’s that that’s my first pass of that answer.

 

Greg Engle

Matt, do you have anything to add to that?

 

Matt Shepard 

I agree with that. But I would say that new ideas, there’s two differences. Is there a new solution? Some people say the iPhone is a new solution. It’s a new technology, it combined, three or four or five different devices and put it into one platform.

 

Bob Moesta

Touchscreen and other things that were part of it. But at the same time, it was all out there.

 

Matt Shepard 

It was all out there, there were PDAs, computers, phones, cameras, and all the sudden the technology advances allowed us to create a new version of those things. That was a singular device. So it’s not truly a new idea, it’s a new version of other ideas.

 

Bob Moesta

This is where we have to unpack the word new? Where’s the threshold of when is it not new? When is it new? What is it an idea? Those are the two big words around is an idea a solution. Part of this is to realize what’s the context we’re talking about. There are no new ideas. In innovation a lot of times it’s iteration more than it is innovation.

 

Greg Engle

Why do you think people put so much emphasis on how having new ideas or new things or being unique to the world, why do we drive for that so much? You hear people say it all the time, what’s the driver behind that?

 

Bob Moesta

I think part of it is one ownership, uniqueness, the whole notion of the patent office and that I have a patent for something that’s a unique idea. There are the judges of is this unique or not? Or is it protectable? Ultimately, it has to go back to economics. Often people are looking for something new, meaning it has to be defendable, has to be different enough from everybody else that we can stick out.

 

Matt Shepard 

Yeah, I agree with that 100%. And the way that it manifests is not only in things, but for example, language is a huge problem in this regard. In economics, we define things certain ways, using specialized language. We use that specialized language, because it makes us unique, it gives us a way to control knowledge, a way to separate ourselves and portray ourselves as something new accounting does the same thing. You know, any specialized industry uses language to create the perception of new and unique so that they can satisfy their own egos and can maximize their potential for building wealth. But at the end of the day, accounting is nothing but basic arithmetic with a few specialized definitions.

 

Bob Moesta

I think that most people in innovation spend more time on trying to make it unique and new, than serving customers to make it better. It’s almost like if I make it better, people will buy more. That’s not true. The other part is, if I make it unique, and different people will buy it. That’s not true. In a lot of cases, people weren’t going out to make something new and different, they were going after solving a specific struggling moment in people’s lives. When they focus on the problem, it causes them to create new things, but from different perspectives. 

 

Greg Engle

Do you think people are going into it looking for the struggle? Or do you think that’s a happy accident?

 

Bob Moesta

What I would say is that there’s a separation between the two. Some people go and try to create the new chip, we’ve got to go find the new sneaker, at some point people don’t need more chips. At some point they’re struggling or wrestling with something that causes you to create SunChips. All those things, successful innovators understand that it’s built on a backbone of years, centuries of knowledge and technology. At the same time, today proposes a new way to possibly do something but the fact is it’s all on the backbone of what’s been invented already.

 

Greg Engle

I think what I heard both of you say to a certain degree is, we have to say it’s new to get attention. 

 

Matt Shepard 

To get attention and to create value for ourselves, 

 

Bob Moesta

The company or ourselves

 

Greg Engle

Is the concept of me creating a new idea, is that what we would call supply side thinking?

 

Bob Moesta

Yeah, that’s where it falls, there’s a difference between what I call technology and ideas. I think of ideas as free, everybody has an idea, if we sit in a room and brainstorm everybody can come up with 100 ideas about anything. But what are good ideas? What are ideas that resonate? What ideas turn into creating value or helping people? You start to realize, you’ve got to bounce those ideas against the right things, when you bounce it against the wall of new and unique and different, that’s not necessarily going to turn into those things.

 

Greg Engle 

I want to push on something you just said, Matt can jump in here as well. But the concept of ideas being free, I think is a flawed concept. Because it takes time, effort, and money to create an idea, especially if we’re talking about companies.

 

Bob Moesta

Again, if we unpack what idea is, there is a difference between ‘I had a thought about something’ and ‘what a true mechanism is’, mechanism is not necessarily an idea to me.

 

Greg Engle  

When Mark Twain says there’s no new ideas, he’s talking about something that’s probably thought of not just a spark in someone’s mind, it’s something that someone tried to go do. What I’m saying is, I think people default to that thinking of ideas are free because then we can take someone else’s idea, we can do different things with it. If we think about how much money companies take, or spend to come up with an idea, to say they’re free is actually a discount of the most important thing of formulating. 

 

Bob Moesta

I think most people think ideas are easy and free, and they’re not, and I totally agree with that side of it. The way that we’re talking to people about, ‘We can just get 20 people in the room and brainstorm a bunch of ideas’ and out of it, we can do a filter process and synthesis and all this other stuff. You end up thinking but is it relevant? Is it certain? 

 

Greg Engle  

Those are the most expensive ideas. 

 

Bob Moesta

Exactly, those are usually the most expensive ideas because they don’t go that far, or they’re great in the mind but in practice, don’t execute.

 

Matt Shepard 

Very much so.

 

Greg Engle 

We all agree that there’s no new ideas out there, there’s combinations of things. There’s new product, new developments, new things.

 

Bob Moesta

But there’s rules of new, If I get a patent, it’s saying I have a new method, or new way, or a new knowledge that nobody else can have access to.  There is a judge of new, but the fact is they’re judging it, is it different from anybody else’s. There’s a way in which to say it’s new, but they’re all derivatives of something. 

 

Greg Engle 

Okay, so that’s going to be very confusing to people. Because you just said there’s new, but then you said there’s not new. 

 

Bob Moesta

No, I said there’s a judge of new.

 

Greg Engle 

That’s the important thing for people to understand, though. What we’re talking about is the concept of thinking or ideas. 

 

Bob Moesta

Yes. 

 

Greg Engle 

And what we’re saying is, they’re all derivatives of something. 

 

Bob Moesta

Yes. 

 

Greg Engle 

But then in the marketplace, there’s a judgment of new. 

 

Bob Moesta

Yes. 

 

Greg Engle 

And that can be judged by many different people. But the thought of new, people build upon other people’s thought people build up other people’s ideas, and then we come up with different ways to deliver on those solutions.

 

Bob Moesta

I’ll take the book that you and I wrote on demand side sales, Is it new? I don’t believe that it’s new. But the fact is that people are calling it refreshing and new. Because at some point in time, it’s not talking about the sales funnel, it’s talking about the buying process. It’s taking jobs to be done, which we’ve been doing for 30 years, and we just flipped it into that realm, suddenly, it’s seen as new and unique and innovative. My thing is that doesn’t fit my definition of it, it’s just an application of the technology that we have in a different space.

 

Greg Engle

Well, new as a word people use to describe something that they haven’t experienced, or a different way to look at it, and what we’re talking about is a new idea. Let’s do that a little bit, talk about Jobs to be. done. It was a brand-new idea, you started interviewing people, it was brand new?

Bob Moesta

No

Greg Engle

Where did it come from? 

 

Bob Moesta

It was born from the struggle of not being able to understand what people were saying and what they meant. But with either the need state study I got or the usage and attitude study. I don’t understand how that helps me get to what I need to go build. That gap said, how do I figure this out?  Usage and attitudes are about how people think and feel about stuff, and what they do, but not why they do it. ‘Need’ states is more about the context and the kind of the criteria around why people do what they do. It’s the merging of all that, that ended up coming to jobs, which was, I go back to the 5 W’s and 2 H’s (who, what, when, where, why, how and how much) well, this is who, when, where, and why to help me figure out what to go build.

 

Greg Engle

Okay, but what methodologies or thoughts or work of other people did you borrow or flip or use in different ways to help you build jobs we’ve done?

 

Bob Moesta

Looking at things like ‘need states’ and realizing that that gets me some distance, but not all the way. It’s how usage and attitudes started but it still was flat and then integrating it together and to bring some of Taguchi’s notion of functions into it. Being able to understand how the function of what it does, as opposed to what it doesn’t do, because a lot of times people will just tell you what they don’t want, not what they want. It was that whole notion of reference point and contrast to create meaning, which is that aspect of where are people coming from when they say these words? It’s being able to understand, it’s a merging of some engineering principles, some marketing principles, and human psychology.

 

Greg Engle  

What about Dr. Deming? What did your experience of working with him, his thoughts, or his ideas? How does that go into jobs?

 

Bob Moesta

Everything is a system, everything has inputs and outputs, customers, and outcomes, all of that strung together say, I understand how to build the system, but I don’t know why or who I’m building it for, or why do they need it. Demings whole causal structure and understanding that aspect of it, realizing that the system is our responsibility to design and how our system is aimed, and what it does is a function of our abilities to put it together. To be clear it’s the birth of what I would call right to left thinking, I need to think about the outcomes I’m trying to achieve. I’m trying to understand the progress I’m trying to help people make. Then what systems can I do to go and do that, so that’s all part of the knowledge that jobs is built on as well.

 

Greg Engle

It wasn’t something brand new that was birthed, you realize that you took different learnings from your schooling, or from mentors that you had. But what I want people to understand is even something like jobs, it’s new to a lot of people, because they didn’t know it was there. It was born of other ideas, when you put them together based on your struggling moment of being an engineer and having to build something and not being able to figure it out with what was given to you.

 

Bob Moesta

Not knowing what easy or fun was and how to engineer it, that’s the struggling moment where I could see their usage and attitudes, I can see their personas, I can get all that. But I didn’t understand, why now? why today? what’s happening?

 

Greg Engle 

Matt, you thought you were you’re getting out of this scot free, and I’m going to turn the barrel to you now and talk to you a little bit from another concept of people saying, the pandemic, economic crisis creates new jobs. So that’s a new idea?

 

Matt Shepard 

That new jobs exist because of some unforeseen trauma.

 

Greg Engle 

Yeah, a pandemic, it creates a new thing, a new struggle.

 

Matt Shepard 

May create new struggling moments, it doesn’t create or define necessarily new jobs.

 

Bob Moesta

Let me just hop in because I think the point is, it might be a new job for me, because I haven’t been in this struggling moment before. But that struggling moment exists for other people in a different place. It depends on the reference point of the word new. Is it a new job for whom? 

 

Matt Shepard 

And when? 

 

Bob Moesta

And when. The question is the pandemic has caused people to head into the job of help me work from home, there are a lot of people who worked from home before. But suddenly, the job of when I can’t go into the office, and I need to be able to be productive helped me find a place in my house so I can do that. It’s just there were more people there.

 

Matt Shepard 

Yeah. They had not been in that job before. But the job existed.

 

Bob Moesta

The Job existed in the universe, in other ways. That’s why when we do interviews, we look back to say, let’s see what causes people to do that, because we can see an inkling of what’s there. Then as we start to aim that forward, we have all the underlying causal mechanisms that let us see who’s headed to what direction and why they’re going to choose.

 

Greg Engle

I have to get Katherine’s air horn out, because this was meant for Matt to answer these questions. I want to slow all that down a little bit. Because there are many people out there saying that the pandemic, or economic crisis, if we have one will change the jobs and just give a more succinct, round answer so we go to the next question.

 

Matt Shepard 

I’m not sure if I can, but I’ll try. If you take a look at the iPhone again, the jobs that the iPhone satisfies, those jobs existed before but they were not satisfied by a device that could do all of them together. The desire to have access to my calendar while I’m on the road existed, the desire to be able to make phone calls while I was out of the office and not near my landline, the desire to have access to my email and other things that I might be able to use my computer for, all those jobs existed prior to the development of the iPhone. The iPhone was simply a new tool that was enabled by technology advancements, for us to take all those jobs and satisfy them through one device, as opposed to separate devices. The jobs existed. But the change of a new product didn’t change the jobs, it changed the solutions that were available to satisfy the jobs. 

 

Bob Moesta

And the expectations.

 

Matt Shepard 

Exactly. If you go back to a pandemic, to Bob’s point, if I didn’t work from home before, that doesn’t mean that the desire to work from home did not exist before it means it didn’t exist for me. When the pandemic hit, my struggling moments changed, both from the supply side for corporations, and from the demand side for the labor. You end up saying, well, I got to figure out how to work from home, this new set of struggling moments for me, but not that they didn’t exist, they existed independently of me.

 

Greg Engle 

But even in that example, me wanting to get work done, regardless of where I am doesn’t change, the location change, the job may or may not have changed for them.

 

Matt Shepard 

Yes.

 

Greg Engle 

Working from home is not a job. And that’s what people think working from home as a job. But working from home is not the job. 

 

Matt Shepard 

No, that’s a channel where I do my work. Yeah, that’s a different discussion.

 

Greg Engle  

That’s what I think people get confused with is they, they say, well, people want to work from home. So that’s a new job to be done – working from home as a job done. No, it’s still being productive. It’s still not being seen as somebody that’s not doing the right things, it’s still all those different things that add up to a job.

 

Matt Shepard 

Because the job is, we’ve said many times and people fail to view jobs in a holistic manner. By holistic, I mean that they understand all the elements of a job, the struggling moments, the pushes, the pulls, the anxieties, the habits, the tradeoffs, that hiring and firing criteria, etc. In addition to the different functional, social, and emotional requirements, that is the holistic view of a job. When I state a functional statement, like, I need to work from home, that’s not a job, that’s a part of a job. This is where the short handing of what jobs are, leads us down these Primrose paths of thinking we have multiple jobs multiple times. And I’ll give you another example of how the pandemic didn’t change jobs. My child last year was a junior in high school. He went from going to school, and taking classes in a classroom with his classmates, with teachers, to March 13, taking classes at home by himself virtually on a computer. What I hired the school to provide to my child did not change because of the pandemic, the way in which the school delivered it changed, but what I’m asking for the school to provide to my child and me as a parent, didn’t change at all. I’m still expecting them to educate him to some level to help him graduate from school to help him get good, standardized test scores, and to ultimately be able to matriculate to college. My desired for what the school is supposed to deliver, didn’t change at all, how they delivered, it changed.

 

Greg Engle  

And ultimately, then had you start to think about alternatives,

 

Matt Shepard 

Right! Do I have to consider a different school? Maybe the school he’s currently going to is not doing a good job of delivering the information via a virtual channel?

 

Greg Engle 

Yeah, So that brings me to the next question is, often people will say is; Well, the reason why I think it creates new jobs is because during an economic downturn or during a pandemic, I can see a churn, I can see businesses grow. That has to be an indicator that a new job is born.

 

Matt Shepard 

No, it’s a new way of delivering against the same set of jobs.

 

Greg Engle 

Or in churn. It’s just that my current isn’t working, and I may or may not have changed. 

 

Matt Shepard 

Absolutely.

 

Greg Engle 

I may or may not have changed the job to be done, but that solution no longer works. I’m going to look for a new one.

 

Matt Shepard 

It’s the same as when we talk about trying to clean your windows and your promise to streak free clean then suddenly it starts streaking, your job for cleaning the windows didn’t change, but the solution is not working anymore.

 

Greg Engle

I think that kind of wraps up kind of what we’re talking about. It started off as everybody agreeing, but then when you start digging into words, you start understanding, there could be confusion in those words. The homework or the thing that we want you to think about as you leave this podcast and you go about your week, are there times that you’re talking to somebody, and the word isn’t unpacked enough? For example, new idea, wasn’t unpacked enough, we agreed on the superficial level but then when we started really digging into it, we found holes into what we were saying.

I want you to think of conversations that you have with people, then you can tell where the disconnects are once you unpack that conversation. The real goal is to unpack during the conversation so both people walk away with clear understanding instead of the thought we were clear. Hopefully we showed you some of that. Take time to do a debrief or a postmortem on the conversation when something doesn’t work to find out what you didn’t unpack. Have a great rest of your week and look forward to seeing you soon.

 

 

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