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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: The Value In Offering Progress to Customers

“Jobs-to-be-done describe the tasks that a product or service is carrying out. People don’t just buy products or just want to use a certain service. They ‘hire’ them to do a job.” Clay Christensen

Jobs To Be Done sees customers as human beings whose only need is to seek progress. They do not want to buy products or services; instead, they want to hire tools (products or services) to achieve a sought after progress. People see progress in terms of an upgraded version of themselves. They are not seeking to own something, they are seeking to reach a more desired state of being.

That desire creates a gap.

A gap that exists between who they are right now and who they wish to become, how they define a better version of themselves. In some cases, that gap is the only thing standing between the current state and the desired state. That gap is standing in the way of progress.

Once the current and the desired states are somehow defined, people seek to build a bridge between them, something that can help them move from one side to the other. They need to cross it and will pursue that gap crossing as long as they have the means, the vision, or the willingness to do so. If the gap promisees to be too much of a hassle to cross, people will refrain from it and decide to find new ways to satisfy themselves in their current state. They decide to forgo their quest for that desirable state.

Your responsibility as companies is to provide people with the tools they need to cross that gap and reach that desired state. These tools (products or services) must be intuitive as well as reliable to use every time your customer needs to use it. What you offer should not add to the struggle of crossing the gap as well. So when you design a new product or service, you focus on the interface and the experience of the customer.

When I looked at all the visual tools out there that are used to help executives innovate new customer centric products and services, I found that most of them were more static and less dynamic. They do not display people seeking progress. They display customers in the current state only. That can be misleading in a way. Executives tend to project their own thoughts on customers as well as limit themselves to what they already know.

However, when you look at customers as people in current state of thoughts seeking to move to a more desirable state, it gives executives a new perception of the situation. It allows them the opportunity to see customers as people trying to progress and not just buy something.

It will also allow them the opportunity to consider products and services in a different light. They no longer see products and services in the static sense of features and price. When products and services are perceived as tools used to help customers move from one state to a more preferred one, products and services are seen as catalyst of transformation and accordingly in that context value can be defined in how well is our product and service can smooth that transition? What kind of features need to be existent in our product and services that can offer customers smooth(er) transition from one state to another?

That is why I developed the customer progress canvas. Because of my work with entrepreneurs all those years, I saw the power of understanding customer in terms of progress and not in terms of just finding the right arguments to sell products and services. It is about becoming part of it all, a component in a journey, and a catalyst for transformation.

The canvas is designed to include three main parts. The now, the to be, and the gap.


In this part your focus is to describe the current observable state of your customer. It is descriptive in nature and relatively easy to figure out.


In this part your focus is to logically deduce the customers’ potential desire.

Once you have finished that first exercise, you need to prepare exploratory questions and use them to conduct customer interviews that can help you see the NOW in more depth and give shape to the TO BE part. Once you have these insights, you will need to go back to your canvas and update it with your findings.

Now comes the time for the third part on the canvas.

The GAP:

In this part of the canvas, you will consider what is stopping customers from moving forward to their desired state and what can make it smooth. Because you have the NOW and the TO BE, it is will be safe to deduce those two factors.

Once you have accomplished that, you will need once again to prepare questions and use them to conduct another round of customer interviews. Your aim is to discover more about constrains and catalysts for customers journey of transformation.

Use the newly discovered insights to update the canvas and finally you come to your last activity: What can you design that can fill the GAP better than anything else? What kind of product or services can you think of, that has features that smooths in the transformation of the customer by removing the customer perceived constraints and hope for catalysts?

Once you have that, you are ready to start using it as a blueprint for prototyping your new product or service and test it with your potential customers.

I feel that empathy is no longer about putting yourself in the place of the customer. Within this context, I believe that empathy is more about getting putting yourself in the place of your customer's on path to progress. What do you think?

If you are interested to download the CPC, please go here

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