According to Julie Zhuo (YouTube), there are three design rules at Facebook.
- What problem do people really have?
- Is this problem real?
- How will we know if we solve it?
These three questions have a very JTBD essence to them. Serving customers is not just about giving them what they ask for but giving them what they really need.
For example, Zhou said, many people over many years have asked Facebook for a dislike button. If there’s a thumbs-up for things we like, why can’t there be a thumbs-down for things we don’t?
But this isn’t really what people want. If the Facebook feed was too much thumbs-down material and not enough friend’s photos, easy recipes (Tasty anyone?), and photos from the past no one would log on. What people want, said Zhuo, is that “not everything in the feed is likable and I want to express other things.”
It’s odd to think that what people say they want may not be what they really want, but we can trust this idea because conditions matter. For example, when parents were collected and questioned in focus groups about what kind of medical information they wanted for a vaccine, they said they wanted more information. The thinking was something along the lines of: ‘this is science, let me weigh the facts.’
But when researchers created 84 Facebook posts that went on to reach three-and-a-half million users, the results were different. The most resonate posts were those with personal stories.
In another example, people were asked if they would wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic. The yes/no split was largely along party lines. However, when people were observed out-and-about, political preference yielded to prudence.
In finance, Nassim Taleb rails, ‘don’t tell me how to invest, show me what’s in your portfolio.’ Tyler Cowen says to look at your actions, and then tell me what you think.
Zhou’s other good point to add to our JTBD quiver is to think not in terms of supplier language but demander. It’s not about the click-through-rate as much as it’s about engaging content. Financial advisors should never bring up words like theta, Sharpe ratio, or quarter-Kelly. None of those are about the JTBD.