Knowing your customer with Alan Klement


We want to create environments, progress
is changing the environment to how I want it to be and then specifically you
want to get into when you are buying these products or
collection of products what type of environment are you hoping to create and
then unpacking that. My primary concern is growth; getting more people to
adopt our product while also getting people to stop leaving it; so
increase adoption reduce turn; something about your customer or
disruptive innovations; you know how can we create some new future for existing
customers so that it will rethink how they work or what they find valuable or
not! Welcome everyone to this week’s edition of Loop Email podcast we talk
about the future of workplace and today we are very happy to have with us
Alan Klement. If I’m correct we’re gonna talk about innovation and growth and I
understand you are an entrepreneur, you’ve worked with many teams, with many
individuals, companies and basically you’re helping companies
create products and innovate in a way where you create products that people
love to buy or people want to find and among the companies I see Private Gear
and you also write books “When coffee and kale compete” and I understand there’s a
book coming out this year called “Jobs to be done at work”. When I read this my
first question actually to you is; in today’s environment do your users and
your buyers have to love your product or they just need to have a value, find
value in your product; is it a love or a value; because I’m hearing
different stories about that one; That’s actually a great question and
I like that, I would answer it, so I’m not going to directly answer you but I’m
gonna suggest that what people love is making progress, so they will, I think
that’s what’s important. I think people speak to you about what
they love by telling you where they put their money, you know, so that through
that revealed preference of their action; so I know didn’t directly answer your
question but that’s how I like to think, I guess and I guess maybe that’s the
answer if I had to, I would say, I want them to value the progress and and find
value in it and not necessarily loving loving the product, because yeah and I’ll speak for myself there are lots of
products I love but I don’t buy them or use them, you know maybe I might use like,
oh this is great I love using it, but you know I don’t I don’t pay for it or maybe
I don’t use it and vice versa there are there are products where I, you know, use
but don’t necessarily love but I continue to use it and consume it. So the
baseline of the thinking is, actually all about sort of, people want progress
people want to see progress in their life, they want to see; How do you figure
out how to define that progress because I don’t think there’s a unilateral way
of saying you know progress is the same in an effort to everyone; So how do you
find that, what progress means for a specific set of users? So to me progress,
so I guess maybe we’ll start with very simply, what do consumers want or what do people want and very simply without going too deep into it, people want to
create environments for themselves where they are happy and can thrive, so that’s
just basic human nature right. I want my work experience and my work
life, that environment to be a certain way, I want my interaction with my
friends that environment to be a certain way, things of that nature and it
continues on; so progress then is when I’m unhappy with a particular
environment and I want to change it in some way so it becomes a more
preferable environment; so I’m not happy with the way I interact with my wife or
your best friend or who or whomever kind of how that environment is that
relationship is like, so I want to make progress by using some collection of
products or services or behavior change to create the environment that I want; so
to kind of recap, two points: people want to create environments for
themselves or they want to live and thrive in and progress is, means that I’m
I’m unhappy with my current environment and I want to evolve or change into the
a more desirable environment; so then when it comes to, you know, specifically
what you’re researching, we want to research, you know, what type of
environment is someone trying to create for themselves; so like for example you
mentioned the Netgear, a client, so I can use that as an example, when we were
doing research around why people were buying these security cameras we didn’t
focus on the particular outcomes of interacting with the camera. Oh you know it should be this audio quality, or it needs to be
waterproof, or it needs to be easy to use, or things of that nature; it was what
kind of environment are you trying to create or change when you
adopt these security cameras and we learn different kinds of environments
that people were trying to create; I’ll just focus on two; one is of course the
security and protecting, so I want to create its environment where I feel like
that my home is secure and my family is protected; and of course you dig deeper
that, what does that mean, like how do you know if your family is protected and
defended, how do you know what happens, that tells you that your home is not
being protected and defended; things of that nature and that’s how you
kind of qualify it and get to the the needs. But like another environment that
people were trying to create was like creating awareness about what was
going on at their home, so for example in this environment we would
hear desirable things like, I want to always know, I want to always make sure
that you know there’s no leak happening, or there’s nothing
going bad at the house right; I always want to make sure that my children are
always safe and that there’s no strangers walking around the property; I
want to always know where my kids are or maybe where the pet is;
I always want to know, what was like another good one, well things of that nature.
I don’t have the research, this is like two years ago but you get the idea; so
you know I guess that’s that’s how I would, how I would kind of sum it up,
think about, we want to create environments, progress is changing the
environment to how I want it to be and then specifically you want to get into
ok when you are buying these products or collection of products, what type of
environment are you hoping to create and then unpacking that! And going down the
environment path, when you sort of create that environment you always have the individual progress versus the team progress as I call it; so team is
something about, you know the environment, I relate environment with, now what is
the feeling you want to create for the whole team, whereas when you talk about
an individual you talk about what are his goals what are his individuals; how
does the team aspect versus individual aspect actually get put into that
approaches? Because I get it, it’s the environment you want to create, but it is
this sort of, you know, is this a decision of a guy or a lady of one or is it a
team decision; how do you sort of put that team aspect into discovering
what needs to be done? Yep, so another great question! So the way that we and
maybe that is the best way that I can explain it is, to when we do research and
B2B software, I think it’s probably the the most closest I can get to an analogy
and describing it; so because of the last example with the camera that was a
B2B, it’s one person, like I’m buying this for myself but what about a team
environment or a group of, or a group of people environment; so and again
I’ll use CRM tools, research that we’ve done numerous research, on numerous CRM tools, but and they’re generally consistent, but I’ll use, I use one in
particular, so a few things that we should think about is, start with that
people buy software right so even though a product is for a team, there are still
people who you know, it still has to come down to people buying it for individual
reasons or willing to adopt it for individual reasons;
so maybe the closest analogy that might work with when we’re doing B2B
software research is, think about your product needs to be, it’s like an organ
transplant, product needs to fit into the body of
the company that you want to sell the product into, but it has to plug into
different things. Oh yeah, we gotta make sure it’s plugged
into the heart, it’s plugged into the lungs, it’s plugging into the digestive
system and it’s delivering progress to that, it’s giving what that
part needs, so usually, so like for example in an CRM type example,
we’ll, we’ll have a situation, well the CEO is going to, we learned you know, it’s
always different from product to product but in the in this particular CRM area,
often CEOs may not necessarily care exactly what CRM is used but there are
certain expectations that they have, meaning like, I want to always know the
current status of our sales pipeline, well I don’t care what CRM you use or
whatever it is, just make sure that every week I’m getting sentence sales data or
a sales whatever, it is right, so like that’s the progress that she wants or
expects from a CRM, but then a sales manager, well you know, I would always know which salespeople perhaps need help or I need
to give attention to, so like that’s progress for her and then maybe the
individual salesperson their progress is I want to close deals ASAP;
and so you kind of like, you know, think of that as the individual parts, you know
are seeking their progress but when they come together, that’s, it’s creating this
environment you know, we call it like a job to be done for example, of
usually we get some theme, like we’re trying to control over sales process! And
when you start, you start with the individual, we start with the environment
and you tend to get there or it’s sort of the environment the central piece of
it all or is it sort of equal? Because the friction it’s
about what you do when and so how do you sort of get that in action? I get it
where the end result is but is, is it so more important to start with one, the
other, or you know you have to have a equal time? Yep, so I the way I answer
that is, we want to start with, so again our, at least in the work that I do and
my investigations, my primary concern is growth, right, getting more people to
adopt our product while also getting people to stop leaving it right so
increase adoption reduce tunr and there’s different variations of growth,
you know which, that’s a whole other discussion, you know, new
products versus whatever whatever whatever, but so I would say that for our
investigative purposes, okay well what is the decision making process and
we call it a decision making or system rather, what is the decision making
system for this product to be adopted; again it’s like what how does the body
know to reject or accept an organ, yeah, and so then and so then we figure out
okay who has who’s a stakeholder in the purchase or adoption of this product and
so and yeah so we investigate that and go that way because sometimes,
you know, some organizations are like, look we’re trying to choose a new CRM but we
can’t get the sales people on board, like okay, well then we gotta you know change
the product or some way in some way so the salespeople get on board or
sometimes we’ve heard situations were a CEO will come in, a new CEO comes in and
she’ll say, I don’t care what CRM you are using but we’re using Salesforce;
she’s never gonna use it but she’s just like, we’re using Salesforce that’s the
way it is, like okay; so it is understanding those dynamics and that’s
so I think about, is like stakeholders! So talking a little bit about the current,
we had a really great podcast last weekend, we talked about sort of
disruption and disruption is all about growth and the one-liner after
sort of 45 minutes or so was, you know imagine your ideal cohort of consumers
that don’t know you they need you; I mean that that’s the one-liner, so you know you have this great idea, you know there’s a cohort out there, you
really focused on delivering value to these, but you really, you know it’s only
a picture of what they want and they haven’t been using your stuff; how
do you do that kind of innovation? How do you sort of figure out you’ve got a
CEO who’s trying to figure out how to get there they start with this crazy
idea; is that the process of understanding how you get that product
into the market and how you sort of get a framework around that disruptive,
versus you’ve got a product and you have to incrementally improve it; is that, are
those two princesses, is that what processes are? you know how do you sort of, or is it all the same? Yeah so I think we kind of course
correct this as we go, good this is a great topic and a great thing to dig
deeper into, so I think of me and modes and actually, it’s when we do research,
market research, we actually have two paths that we do and it starts with and
I guess it kind of weighs saying before do you want to do
and proving what is right which is more sustainable or do you want to create
what could be or should be, which is perhaps usually often the more
disruptive thing and and actually looking at through the lens of research
I think helpful for anyone even if you don’t do research yourself but
understanding how research approaches is, this I think will be helpful, from a
research point of view I am NOT, I’m going to spend very little time talking
with customers about what they do or don’t want today, right, because if I’m
trying to create something new, what they do or don’t want today has minimal
impact, if it truly is new and different, like for example, it’s gonna be very hard
to get to the iPhone by talking to Palm or Blackberry owners, I mean just imagine
that, right you know, showing even, showing an iPhone concept to a Blackberry owner
be like, where’s the keyboard, where’s the keyboard; we reached out this is
ridiculous, I mean and of course we’ve all heard that and I’m, I think we all
kind of had that experience where I knew many people who were hardcore BlackBerry owners and for like a year and a half, like after the iPhone came, with like
never, never, you know I need my keyboard, and so on and so forth
but then of course they all, they all converted and so I think, that’s kind of
how we go about, so when we’re doing research for disruptive innovations we
think about, well how things how do we believe things should be, right, how
should team communication be like, right, and then that’s like what’s our opinion
of that and then let’s design that future environment and then work
backwards to figure out how do we get customers to that; another way of
thinking about is, I’ve used the phrase, which is also very kind of jobs to be
done, is also think about, who do you want your customer to become right, so like
think about like, who you know, again, like think about like, a kid like, when I grow
up I want to be a fireman or something, like that, well that’s not how they are
today or their needs of today but you want to help them figure out how do I
turn this kid or put this kid on a path so he becomes a fireman
in the future, something about that thing that were your customer or disruptive
innovations, you know, how can we create some new future for existing customers
so that it will rethink how they work or what they find valuable or not! Going
a little bit to execution and sort of, I get it, there is a disruptive, the
normal, there’s a framework behind, so if you talk about small to medium companies,
with sort of limited budgets, limited resources, trying to sort of
incrementally improve stuff, what’s the best thing they can do? If they come into
you know they listen to this podcast, they get it; the best thing
they can do on Monday when they start thinking about, you know, how do they
prove their product? How do they innovate? How do they make the right decisions and
all that? What’s the one-liner these people should take off this
podcast in terms of concrete actionable items? Yep, so I would start off with and
this is very easy to do, it’s, it takes, it’s not expensive right to do it and
you can do it but it just, it’ll just take a little work but you can do it and
that is understand how demand gets generated for your product, so think of
it as like you know how we have like sales funnels right and then you will
kindly have different stages and so on and so forth; but that’s already when
demand for your product has been created, so think about creating like a funnel of
demand, like how do they first come to realize that consumers need to make a
change or they should, they should consider it; how do they first hear about
us do they try to adapt their existing solution are they to go out and start
shopping for new solutions right away; when they are shopping for new solutions,
what other alternatives did they try and what do they do and don’t like about
those; I’ll stop there but that’s a great way to do it, because then you’ll get like,
well you know we thought about switching to Salesforce but
you know, here’s why it didn’t work for us, what we liked about and here’s what
we didn’t like about it but then we also thought about looking at Copper CRM and
here’s what we didn’t like about that one and then we also look at this
one, here’s what we didn’t like about that one, so now you’re getting like
through comparing alternative solutions, you’re getting like the customers value
code because it’s very hard to talk to someone, like what do you like about
Salesforce, like uh I don’t know, they say they’ll go away;
compared to Copper CRM or Pipedrive or whatever
what do you like about Salesforce? Oh okay, well here, so I I think that’s a very
easy way to figure to dial into what’s valuable to customers by talking about
well, when you thought about making a change and you start shopping and
comparing, contrasting solutions what didn’t you like about each one and then
that you can usually almost directly translate that to what you should change
to hopefully acquire more customers; like I wanted to choose you guys but I had to
go with Salesforce because you’re missing a Salesforce integration API; Oh
easy you know how if we add that feature then we believe that we will acquire all
those people who wanted to choose us but didn’t because we were missing one
critical feature! And because there’s so many models out there and there’s so
many executions, once you know somebody starts doing, going down one path, where
is the sort of; what’s the biggest risk people have in actually ending up
not doing cycles of innovation that end up in you know just creating more of the
same old habits of innovation that doesn’t actually add value. Whereas where
have you seen in your history of other customers, where is that, where the big
mistakes that happen and how to avoid it? Yeah, so do I and I’m gonna clarify your
question a bit so, like you you want to find out like, is the situation that
you’re hoping to avoid or we’re talking about is, it like how do we make sure
that we’re just not putting junk into our product and hoping it will acquire
more customers, or is there change for the sake of change? So what we do, yes, so what we, what we, you know
working with customers, what we discover is many times people actually you know
just try anything and they basically finish off in three weeks time and they
get into the same cycle and then they try something else; so they try a lot of
different frameworks, they try a lot of different things and they never actually
end up doing anything until the end so; so how you working with these customers,
have you been able to see, that you know, your framework has been
successful in implementing long term change, long term change of behavior and
how they innovate change of measuring and making sure progress is
done in the right way; because what we normally see is people have good ideas
about how to approach innovation but they don’t, you know, they don’t have that,
they don’t have the discipline, they don’t have the resources or have a lot
of reasons why they sort of stop midway; So that’s
actually a very interesting topic also I’d like to talk about, so if you know
for me actually interestingly, I don’t like I think for me the and I’ll pull… I’ll just kind of jump right to it, I
think the issue is that, people are such in a rush to to deliver something right,
I mean, it’s everyone, like I’m a CEO I had to do this or I’m a product manager
like I have to do this that, we kind of get panicky if it will and it’s
basically like just tell me what to do, just give me a process for me to do so I
can just do it like tell me what a user needs, and how do I find it and then
how I turn that into a feature and but I find that and this is an old problem
right and not even just for product development; innovation this is just
anybody right, I think the solution to that is actually not, is to actually
think about focusing on for like first principles or like understanding
how things work; so like for example I like in our research, like for our
business revealed I wouldn’t say we don’t have a framework right, we actually
use many different types of execution or you know frameworks, if you will but what
our kind of thinking is around understanding how systems work like
systems theory for example understanding how people work and how people think and
is kind of what we focus on and put our attention on and then depending on the
situation at hand then we figure out what framework that we need to use or
what execution framework we ought to use; so I mean, I’m maybe not directly answer
your question but that’s how I think and do it and I think that’s where
I would recommend others to do as well; Tell me about your book coming out later
this year or next year, tell me about sort of what’s the new horizon? You’re
gonna be selling the book but still, if there’s a one-liner about what’s into thinking you’re putting into the book, what would it be?
Yep, so this is the formalization of the theory properly, of jobs through done
theory, but also giving you guidance on how to actually go out and execute it
depending upon the type of progress that you want to make; so actually I in
the course of writing it, we’ve, I’ve actually enough to change the title of
the book we’re gonna call it job done in a nutshell understand design,
understand discover design create and so; those are like the four kind of like
vectors, that were topics that we’re gonna briefly just kind of talk about; so
it’s like understand the concepts, it would be one short section, another one
is well how you discover jobs that are out there, how do you design for jobs to
be done but also how do you create jobs to be done, there out, there, so that’s
that’s our thinking, so more than a couple lines but that’s our gist! What do you do when you aren’t
writing books, consulting and doing the stuff that makes, gives, you know, your
business like; what you do is as Alan, where’s your Zen moment? Well I was gonna say reading other stuff but I think that’s maybe what kind of lump, that with
work but you know reading other books on Systems Theory or so on so, I mean it’s
entertainment but it’s also kind of helps to become better if your work; so
outside of that I mean I just I’ve got a very active three-year-old and and my
and my wife is like six months pregnant so I’m in like family mode right now, so
my life is working for whatever for nine hours and then running home, cooking
dinner and then taking care of the kids or helping my wife out and then I’m so
exhausted I just pop on a podcast and fall asleep;
Those are my big, day… Our definition of progress is, well different, because
I have four kids, you know, two kids are much easier than four kids I can tell
you that, But don’t the kids start at caring for each other at some point
hopefully; or like walking out? There, there’s no framework that books about
that but it you can implement it doesn’t work because the execution is bad or
it’s good because the theory is bad I don’t know but it doesn’t work in my
case, they and really great boys but they; because everyone is individual, everyone
is trying to create this environment that it’s the same story we talked about
it’s trying to create this environment where everybody feels comfortable, yeah,
you’ve got, you know, the youngest guy, you know, he wants it all done the way he
wants it, that, the older guy is trying to just make sure everybody does whatever
they’re supposed to do and you’ve got the ones in the middle, so you know
individual progress versus team enviroment and progress. It iss the same stories at home and family and the more people you have the more complex it.
complex yes what books do you recommend m What would you recommend to our listeners? I did a tweet actually
about that not too long ago because people ask me this and I was like I
don’t even know like actually I just I like I just took like a bunch of
pictures of my bookshelf like here’s what I’m reading or I’ve read last six
months; I’m looking over right now; I’m lucky so a very approachable book right
that everyone should read so, it’s called the “Self regulation of behavior”,
it’s actually, it’s written by a bunch of psychologists, it’s not like pop
psychology, you know it’s not like… it’s actually written for academics but
the guys are not writing like quote academics right it’s actually very
approachable and anyone, like I’ve had people who told me like wow I read it
and it was like very informative but it wasn’t dry or it was actually
interesting to read and very succinct and not jargony; I highly recommend it
because that’s just basically gets down to like what motivates people to act and
that will I mean that will help you if you are a CEO trying to create
organizational alignment, like how do I incentivize people or how do I speak to
people in a way that I get buy-in this will help you as a designer to figure
out why people would start using your product or continue using it, it’ll help
you understand your own motivations and behavior, I mean it’s just a really great
great book so that’s if I choose one that’d be it perfect; that’s a probably
Twitter is the best way right now to interact kind of see where I’m up to and
interacting with me which is at Alan Clement or my website alanklement.com
if you want to send me an email not through Twitter, like a lot of people
DM me, it’s kind of interesting in some ways pub-like I use email
mostly for like internal it’s like business communication but then like
internal communication is like Slack and like Google Meets and sometimes email
but like external communication with just like whiteboard strangers is like a
lot time DM for me but also email so that’s that’s probably Twitter or you
could send me a message through my website! Okay
thank you very much, quickly my understanding is create the product
that takes care of the environment, understand what environment is, what
environment are people trying to create with your product, try to understand what
individuals, what progress means in a specific environment and try to care
also for the individual needs of an individual, if you can take care and
balance these two you can create great products, if you have good execution
behind it! Alan thank you very much, it was really insightful and hopefully we will meet at some point in the future. Yes
thank you! thank you!

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