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Brave New Law Toolkit: Asking ‘Jobs to Be Done’ Questions

18 May 2020
As part of our Brave New Law series we have ran a series of virtual workshops with a select group of general counsel. We presented two hypothetical situations and applied 'Jobs To Be Done' questioning. Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that came out of our sessions. 

When approaching a challenging situation, it can be difficult to sort through the multiplicity of issues presented to us. Jobs to be Done is a theory outlined by Clayton Christensen and expanded upon in his 2016 book Competing Against Luck, co-written with Karen Dillon, Taddy Hall and David S. Duncan.

What Jobs to Be Done theory (JTBD) presents us with is a framework which tries to focus on the big picture and the ultimate end needs of the client whether that client is internal or external, B2B or B2C. Layered in for general counsel is the need to consider the JTBD of their internal clients, but then also the JTBD of the ultimate external client of the organisation.

DWF have now ran the first two in a series of virtual workshops with a selection of general counsel. We presented two hypothetical situations, which had a number of different, and often competing factors, to consider. We applied JTBD questioning to these situations. Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that came out of our sessions, which are relevant to consider in a range of situations.

Asking the right question is key - but getting there is not always a straight line

Process is a necessary part of this – you may need to ask a number of smaller questions to get a handle on the totality of the situation, as part of working towards the JTBD question.” Understanding jobs is about clustering insights into a coherent picture rather than segmenting down to finer and finer slices.” (Christensen et Al: Competing Against Luck: Harper Business, 2016: p.32)

When analysing the merits or not of a particular course of action it’s fundamental to understand the ultimate end goal for the organisation. If it’s a customer facing organisation, a key aspect has to also be to consider the customer centricity of what ‘success’ looks like.

An interesting application for many of our attendees was asking themselves what’s my legal team’s ‘Job to Be Done’ in general or in a given situation? It’s often not what is the most obvious and may have nothing to do with the legal work but be about outcomes for the wider business.

And risk cannot be ignored

Lawyers will need to factor into the use of a strategy exercise like JTBD theory the relationship with risk. Part of the process of considering all the different questions which can play into a JTBD question focused around ‘why do we want to do this?’; ‘why will this be good for our customers; ‘why do our customers want this,’ can also be layering in the risk factors and evaluating those. ‘How can we fulfil the ultimate job to be done with the right amount of risk exposure’ is a question our general counsel felt lawyers needed to be thinking of in their application of JTBD theory.

Culture (internally and externally) is also a significant factor 

Culture needs to be woven in to evaluating application of JTBD theory our general counsel felt. As Christensen et Al explain in Competing Against Luck, circumstances - of which organisational culture will be a significant piece - are often what leaders don’t take into account when thinking of new products, innovations or major changes.

Lawyers can feel that it’s not their place to question or hold other functions to account in non-legal areas, but this is now a necessary part of being a leader, who happens to be a lawyer.

Find out more 

Brave New law is a series of explorations with General Counsel and DWF seeking to understand the challenges of delivering legal advice in the future. Our next workshops will focus on Leadership in Extremity.

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