On Hiring Products to Do a Job – Part II

This week’s book learning is from How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered why Ikea has never been copied? The company is very successful and any competitor can walk through its stores, reverse engineer its products, and copy its catalog. Yet, it’s never been done.

Clay Christensen’s belief is that while other furniture makers define businesses by product or customer segments (high end, low end, etc.), Ikea understands the answer to the question – what job does my customer hire me to do? They know customers hire them when they want to quickly re-furnish a house. So they..

– make furniture easy to carry, deliver home, and assemble
– have a kids area to take care of the kids, and
– even have a restaurant so you can focus on shopping without worrying about your next meal

Similarly, great marriages involve spouses who have an understanding of why they’re ‘hired’. We often like projecting what we think our spouse wants onto our spouse instead of taking time to understand his/her needs.

Why has Ikea’s phenomenal success not been copied?

When Clay and team asked the question about schooling i.e. “What job do children hire schools to do?,” they found that going to school is not a job that children are trying to get done. It is something that a child might hire to do the job but it isn’t the job itself. The two fundamental jobs that children need to do are to feel successful and to have friends every day.

The problem is that only a fraction of students feel successful through school.

A great question to bring forth some very interesting insights..