You might be surprised that the answer has nothing to do with health care. Instead, it’s articulating a singular focus for your organization, grounded in the progress customers are seeking. Frequent readers will notice I’m referring to the theory of Jobs to Be Done.
Jobs Theory (Jobs) is a framework to better understand customer behavior. While conventional marketing segments a market by demographics and product attributes, Jobs focuses on the functional, social, and emotional drivers that explain why customers make the choices they do. People pull products and services into their lives to achieve their desired progress, and this progress—together with the context the person finds themself within—is the “job” they are trying to get done.
Organizing a business model around a customer’s job gives companies a competitive advantage and fuels its growth. Understanding the job allows the company to more effectively develop solutions that match the progress people seek. Taking a Jobs approach is especially effective in markets where existing solutions are misaligned with customers’ priorities.
In his book, Competing Against Luck, Clayton Christensen shares how companies that organize their business models around serving a Job to Be Done have a competitive advantage over those who do not. Without understanding the job, and organizing around it, organizations are effectively “competing against luck.”
To his point, health care is an excellent example of a market where existing solutions are misaligned with customers’ priorities. This is especially true in the world of pharmaceuticals. So when it comes to Cuban, not only has his singular focus benefited him, but the industry landscape and the poor fit between the progress people seek and current market offerings is enabling his success.
How does Cuban do it?
As Becker’s Hospital Review highlighted in a recent article, Cuban is focused on serving one problem that is prevalent in the industry: the high cost of prescription drugs. To frame this problem in the language of Jobs to Be Done, one could frame the job statement as, “When people persistently complain about the need to lower health care costs, help me lower drug prices, so I can ensure consumers have affordable access to medication.”
Mark Cuban is unapologetic about his singular focus on serving this corner of the health care market. As Becker’s article outlined, he has no intention of expanding his business model into other areas of health care. This is the opposite strategy that we are seeing from many health care incumbents today, and it’s also in stark opposition to the traditional health system business model.
Most health care organizations have a lengthy list of priorities, which produce three core issues. First, the definition of priority is “to take precedence.” One cannot have 25 items to execute that all “take precedence” over others. Second, many—if not all—of these priorities are articulated from the lens of the entity, not the customers, consumers or patients they serve.
And lastly, in today’s environment of continued margin pressure, many health systems are inching closer to financial failure. And without a clear articulation of what jobs they do and don’t serve, they won’t succeed in the long term. Focus is required for continued success and sustainability.
Organizing around the Job to Be Done for long-term success
So, how might organizations shift their approaches from one focused on multiple, self-oriented priorities to one focused on a singular, or select few, customer-oriented jobs? It isn’t easy, but it is possible; and in today’s competitive environment, it’s increasingly required. This shift involves two steps.
- First, identify the jobs customers are seeking to address and how well one’s organization is or is not capable of addressing them. To do so, leaders can follow a specific process for job identification. I wrote more about that approach here.
- Second, leaders must identify the strategy they will employ to deliver on the job(s). That is a substantial undertaking, which we guide leaders through in our report, Improve or transform. In this how-to guide, executives will find a strategy primer and decision tool to help them determine the best fit for their organization, based on their current and projected future contexts.
Mark Cuban, and other innovators like him, are setting the new standard for business. If leaders want to stay on the playing field amidst this new competition, they must keep their organizations focused on serving one, or a closely related few, Jobs to Be Done.
If they don’t, they’ll be competing against luck and may find their organization won’t be around much longer.