Mapping the Logic of Progress for a Job to be Done

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What is a Progress Map?

In short, a “Progress Map” delineates the logic of progress for any executable job (i.e., a prime job). A Progress Map is the first step in performing Value Target Analysis, a method that identifies undershot, must-be, overshot and indifferent dimensions of customer value (or value targets) for solutions-in-use. Value targets guide innovation efforts to—

  • Scale up undershot dimensions of value thereby increasing the perceived (customer) value of a solution and;
  • Scale down overshot dimensions of value thereby decreasing the cost structure (to the provider) of a solution (which also increases pricing flexibility).

A Progress Map is created in a universal form that makes no reference to—

  • Circumstance of struggle – the situational and conditional factors surrounding job execution that cause moments of struggle (MoS) for customers;
  • Job solutions – products, services, technology, and other resources that may be used to execute a job.

Specifically, a Progress Map—

  • Defines expected success outcomes (or results of job action) for ALL customers trying to get a particular job done;
  • Defines the job steps that ALL job executors must successfully accomplish to generate expected success outcomes;
  • Defines the customer value metrics (CVMs) that ALL job executors use to gauge how well a job gets done (CVMs are synonymous with “customer needs”);
  • Makes explicit how job action CVMs (means) predict success outcome CVMs (ends). These causal relationships represent the logic of progress for ALL job executors trying to get a particular job done regardless of their unique circumstance and available solutions.

Because a Progress Map is circumstance and solution agnostic, it’s applicable to ALL individuals and organizations trying to get a particular job done. This generic or universal perspective of progress for a customer job is useful because it—

  • Reveals how job circumstance for different groups of customers causes MoS for those customers, thereby defining segments of opportunity. Understanding the logic of progress for a job, innovation teams can quickly establish relationships between job circumstance and moments of struggle for different customer segments;
  • Surfaces the competing solutions that different customer segments regard as having an adequate job-solution fit for getting a particular job done based on their common circumstance. Knowing the solutions that your product/service competes with (in the mind of customers) is crucial for creating and maintaining best value products/services.

Progress Map Elements

Job Action Steps – Executing any job involves a succession of job steps that together represent the logic of progress required to get the job done. This differs from a customer journey map that depicts what an individual is doing as he/she uses a particular solution (aka: an activity map). Job action steps, on the other hand, are the goals or end points that job executors are trying to accomplish by way of performing discrete activities.

Therefore, there are three criteria that a valid job step must meet—

  • A job action step must be necessary for ALL job executors, not just some job executors;
  • A job action step must define the endpoint or goal a job executor is trying to accomplish by way of performing a discrete activity. To be clear, a job action step is not a task or activity;
  • A job action step must be necessary for ALL solutions that could be hired to execute a job, not just some solutions.

Core Action Step – it is the activity within the core action step that generates the customer’s success outcomes. The job steps before the core step represent what must be accomplished to enable core job action (else the core action step can’t be done). The job steps after the core step represent what must be accomplished to ensure the core step was accomplished and can be repeated. Thus, all job steps before and after are subordinate to the core action step, which is the reason the other steps are necessary. This is why it is called the “core” action step.

Step Contenders – space is allocated on the Progress Map for parking potential job action steps. Multiple action step contenders may be proposed before a job action step emerges that can meet all three validation criteria.

Customer value metrics (CVMs) – are the quantified dimensions of value associated with job action steps and success outcomes that collectively represent the criteria job executors use to gauge how well a job gets done or can get done via job solutions. Stated another way, these are the hiring criteria that customers use to evaluate the satisfaction of needs with respect to a job.

  • Job action CVMs are quantified dimensions of value associated with job action steps and are expressed as either minimizing or increasing something relating to performing job activities (directional metrics). For example, “Minimize the time it takes to check out” and “Minimize the time it takes to find the desired item” and “Increase the number of patrols in my neighborhood.” Job action CVMs predict the satisfaction of success outcomes;
  • Success outcome CVMs are quantified dimensions of value associated with the functional, emotional and social dimensions of wanted results. Success outcome CVMs are desired future states expressed in the simple present tense or present continuous tense. For example, “The package arrives on time” (functional) and “I feel good about my smile” (emotional) and “I am respected for my expertise” (social) and “I am maintaining a good credit score” (functional). Success outcomes are lagging indicators of job action effectiveness. As such, increasing the level of satisfaction of success outcomes can only be done by increasing the efficacy of a solution-in-use.

How to Create a Progress Map

The Progress Map is a generic template and is intended as a guide only. It is best to create a Progress Map on a large whiteboard or wall using different colors and sizes of sticky notes (useful for keeping information limited, mobile, and to indicate relationships). Create your Progress Map in a place where it can be kept safely displayed until mapping and Value Target Analysis is complete. Ideally, this location will be suitable to hold customer interviews. Use the Progress Map to drive job story discussions, revising the Progress Map as needed when new information comes to light.

If the opportunity is to enhance an EXISTING product/service, a Progress Map can be created with only a handful of customer interviews because the structure and logic of progress is already familiar for the target job. You can often create a “straw man” Progress Map before talking to customers and then conduct 5-6 customer interviews to refine the logic of progress. Start by asking, “What is the job our current customers continue to hire our solution to get done?”

If the opportunity is to create a NEW product/service, the structure and logic of progress for a target job may be less familiar. In this case, the Progress Map is developed concurrently while conducting customer interviews. Between 20-30 customer interviews are recommended for value innovation opportunities.

In either case, a Progress Map is an effective way to focus job story discussions with team members, the organization at large, business partners, customers and non-customers on the topics that matter for innovation purposes. Innovation teams are able to quickly elicit the information they need to guide their innovation efforts because they know what to ask customers. They avoid “fishing” and time-consuming detours through the “swamp” of job complexity, much of which is superfluous for the purpose of innovation.

General Progress Map Procedure:

  1. Define the core action step on the Progress Map (from the job action statement);
  2. Define the wanted functional, emotional and social success outcomes for all job executors;
  3. Delineate the job steps that must precede the core action step (else core action cannot be accomplished). Then delineate the job steps that must follow the core action step to ensure that the core step has been accomplished and can be repeated;
  4. Define the job action CVMs associated with each job step. Start with the core action step; then the job steps preceding the core step; finally, the job steps that follow the core step. As you are doing this, indicate which job action CVMs predict which success outcomes. Indicate these relationships by using the same sticky note colors or using colored dots.

Keep in mind that your goal is to create a generic Progress Map that is free of customer circumstances and job solutions. As such, the logic of progress will apply to ALL individuals and organizations trying to get a particular job done.

Please note that a customer job typically has between 10 and 15 job action steps, not 8 steps as depicted on this template. Generally, there are between 2 and 5 job action CVMs for each job step before and after the core step. The core job step can have well over 5 job action CVMs depending on the number of success outcomes involved. Generally, there are between 6 and 20 success outcomes for any job.

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