Kinko’s JTBD

When asked if he worried about Xerox vertically integrating, Kinko’s founder Pual Orfalea said ‘HAAHAHAHAH. No.’

It’s obvious with distance, hindsight, and present best practices that’s exactly what Xerox should have done. Move down the market, get closer to the customers, and let their purchase decisions drive product innovation. But Paul Orfalea just laughed.

And he’s right.

Xerox couldn’t have acquired Kinko’s because Xerox and Kinkos are two different businesses.

“We aren’t in the copy business. We are in the emotions business. We help people get jobs, make sales brochures, and celebrate the major moments of their lives.” – Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s

People don’t want quarter-inch holes, the expression goes, they want to hang their damn vacation photos.

Orfalea figured that out and designed his organization around the idea. He empowered counterworkers to solve problems immediately. When customers came in worked up and stressed out about an errored order, the last they thing want to hear is ‘let me talk to my manager and see what we can do.’ No! An immediate refund and rushed redo was the solution, and it’s what Kinko’s did.

“Our customers didn’t particularly care how the work got done either,” Paul writes in Copy This,” But they cared passionately about obtaining relief, symbolized by the finished product.

Job to be done is a great theory for product development but it only works holistically. The Panera job is food and place. If either is ‘a mess’ then neither works. The things have to fit together as homeotelic systems. Actions A and B work toward the same goal.

Kudos to Kinko’s and Xerox for using the Rich Barton “Scrabble Letter” naming system. Orfalea credits the name of Kinko’s to his kinky hair and his mom noting that people don’t forget hard consonants, as our first is GooGoo Gaga.

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