If there’s one concept from Jobs to be Done theory that has helped me understand customer behaviour better, it must be the Progress Forces Diagram. And every time I explain it during a workshop or during coaching it makes sense to others as well. That’s why I’m writing this small post to explain it to you, and how it can help you find out whether your product has potential.
But before we get into more detail, let’s first take a look at how jobstobedone.org visualises the diagram in this post:
As you can see there are two sides of the progress forces diagram:
Let me explain a bit more about those:
As you can see there are two factors on the left side:
The push of the situation, i.e. how much it keeps someone from reaching their goals (how impeding it is) must be big enough to move someone to action and start investing time to actively start looking for a new solution.
Just think about it: how many products are you using that you get annoyed with from time to time, but you can’t be bothered to start looking for a better alternative? Exactly. Looking for something new costs energy, so we usually postpone it until we really have to (i.e. the downsides of the current solution are big enough).
That unless someone is actively looking for a new solution, it will be pretty hard to reach them. You might be able to convince people solely with the “awesomeness” of your solution, but it’s definitely not the easiest way to go.
So go for the people who are already actively looking for a new solution. The ones who, as to say so, “take the solution out of your hands”. And go for solving the problems that are brought up naturally during interviews (are on the forefront of your interviewee’s minds), not the ones you have to bring up yourself.
Also realise: if you’re advertising with the problem you can solve, but you’re not having much success gaining interest, it’s a good sign that people are not experiencing enough pushes to actively go look for another solution. Consider changing your plans in this case.
On the right side we have two other factors:
In order for someone to adopt a new solution they must be convinced that the benefits are worth the investment required and (possible) downsides.
To illustrate this with an example from my own work: While onboarding new users onto Dispatch, a Firmhouse tool for tracking assumptions and experiments, we discovered that many of them were reluctant to start using it because they wondered whether it was flexible enough to suit their needs. They were afraid of investing lots of time and energy into getting to know the product, and then running into walls later on, forcing them to switch to another solution after all.
To increase the chances of people adopting your solution:
If there are a few things I’d like you to take away from this it’s:
There’s some connection to the pains and gains in the Value Proposition Model canvas. As you might have guessed, pains can be related to pushes, as they’re “painful” enough to push someone out to go look for a new solution. Gains can be equated to pulls, as they are the positive things about a product that convince someone to start using it.
But what I like about the pushes & pulls concept is that it doesn’t describe something as positive or negative, but the effect it has on someone’s behaviour: does it make someone go out and look for something else? Or does it convince someone to adopt a particular solution?
Also, the Progress Forces diagram helps in deciding what to focus on when: if people are clearly experiencing enough pushes, but they are anxious to adopt a new solution, focus on good onboarding & customer support. On the other hand, if your research seems to indicate a lack of pushes all-together, you might want to change your plans.