Book Summary: When Coffee and Kale Compete

When Coffee and Kale Compete is going on my recommend list. It takes a lot of ideas from other books and clarifies and refines them. It even calls some of those books out by name, including Scott Ulwick's Jobs to be Done, both Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Solution and Competing Against Luck, and others.

Here are my big takeaways

  • A "job to be done" exists where a customer wants to make progress in their lives to a end at a better, improved version of their current state. Interestingly enough, this means that a lot of jobs to be done can be resolved by changing circumstances or situation, and not necessarily with a product. For example, being a "more rested, calm, serene person" can be heavily influence by the sound of sirens outside your apartment. The author's suggestion was that if you can visualize the steps of a job to be done, you're probably visualizing an activity or a task, and not the job to be done itself.

  • Jobs to be done tend to be relatively stable over time, so when you're introducing a new product, unless you know what habits or behaviors it's displacing, you either don't understand your true competition, or you don't understand the job to be done. For example, a car purchase isn't necessarily in straight competition with other cars, it's also in competition with walking, biking, buses, the train, food delivery services, physical space for parking, and all the other reasons my family doesn't have a second card while living in the city.

  • The traditional marketing push and pull forces still apply when adopting a new product to solve a job to be done. People are pushed out of existing solutions when they're dissatisfied or frustrated with their existing condition and they're drawn to new solutions by the promise and imagined future state of who they could be. Risk of switching, in terms of anxiety over whether new solutions will work, and plain old inertia, still need to be overcome.

  • Goals exist at multiple levels. At the top, or goals addressing who a person wants to "be." Below that, are what a person has to "do" to achieve who they want to be. This breaks down further until you get the lowest level goals, like the motor functions to turn the pages in a book.

  • There are echoes in this book to The Mom Test, i.e. you can't list to customers when they tell you what they want because they can't properly imagine a future state. That's the innovators job. But past behavior contains real evidence of what people were trying to do.

  • There are also echoes in this book from ideas in Flow, namely that people have a natural desire for growth and self-improvement. Flow is focused more on skill development and how it changes a persons sense of identity as a source of happiness and fulfillment, whereas WCAKC seems more focused on the betterment of your general condition, but there are strong parallels.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published