Books for software engineers and managers

When Coffee & Kale  Compete

Become Great at Making Products People Will  Buy

by Alan Klement

Categories:
Product Manager,
Designer,
Startup Founder

Studying customers needs is different from studying what customers don’t like about their current  solution

As product designers and innovators, we often look for opportunities in product gaps. Which features are missing from competitor solutions?

Asking about those gaps or problems in competitor solutions is fundamentally different from asking about customer needs.

The trouble is that needs are fuzzy and unknown, where competitor features are well-defined and known which make the conversation easier.

Customers don’t want your product or service, they want a better  life

Too many companies have solutions in search of a problem. We’ve built products that people aren’t buying and we perceive that as poor marketing. Maybe we’re just not explaining the product well enough.

Customers don’t care about your product. They just want their problem solved.

Jobs to be done are not activities or  tasks

When product managers and designers list out JTBD, we often make the mistake of listing tasks. Export a CSV file. Send an email reminder. Invite a user.

Tasks are comforting and clear, but they fail at explaining the underling job of how this customer is going to trying to make progress in their life.

Customers prefer one solution for a job to be  done

Most customers don’t entertain multiple solutions at a given time. It’s winner takes all.

When one solution isn’t working out, the customer switches to another solution and leaves the previous offering behind.

Having the best price is a moot point if your product doesn’t offer  progress

You could pay people to use your product and still not get any customers if your product doesn’t offer progress.

Unless you see products switching between products, they are not  competitors

Just because products offer similar functionality or features doesn’t make them competitors. Switching is the only sign of competition.

Most consumers are okay with good-enough free  solutions

As product designers and product managers, we imagine ourselves creating robust and often premium solutions that customers happily throw money at.

In reality, most customers are just fine with good-enough solutions. We just want progress and a free solution that mostly gets the job done is usually best.

When Coffee & Kale Compete

How strongly do I recommend When Coffee & Kale  Compete?
7 / 10

When Coffee & Kale Compete offers a clear introduction to the Jobs To Be Done framework and I recommend this book for product managers, designers, and engineers.

Specifically for software engineers, this book encourages us to think about the underlying customer problem we’re trying to solve – not just the feature we’re told to build. Within that problem space lies innovation and creativity, which makes our work and lives more interesting and fulfilling.