About the talk

Ask anyone what business agility means and you often hear something along the lines of adapting to change and responding faster. But you will never innovate when you just give customers what they want, at a faster rate.

True innovators dig into customer needs and desires and look for the Job-to-Be-Done. The customer experience is more than just the sum of all your product features.

Do you truly understand what makes your clients happy? Do they even understand this themselves? It’s not the customer’s job to know what they need or want. That’s our job.

Watch the talk 👇

Stop thinking about features, start thinking about the experience."– Jurgen Appelo

About Jurgen Appelo

Jurgen calls himself a creative networker.

But sometimes he’s a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy.

Inc.com has called him a Top 50 Leadership Expert and a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Since 2008, Jurgen writes a popular blog at NOOP.NL, offering ideas on the creative economy, agile management, organizational change, and personal development.

He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations; How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management; Managing for Happiness, which offers you practical ideas to engage workers, improve work, and delight clients; and most recently, Startup, Scaleup, Screwup, which contains 50% inspiring stories and 50% practices to follow and dives into the major topics that business leaders and entrepreneurs are confronted with throughout the business lifecycle.


This is a transcript of the original talk by Jurgen Appelo at PM72 Summit organized by Jexo. 👉 Learn more about PM72 Summit: 72-hour Project Management Conference.

Hey everyone.

This is Jurgen Appelo from Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

I am known among some people as the author of Management 3.0 and managing for Happiness and Startup Scale Up, Screw Up.

Those were the books that I have written.

But I am not going to talk about these books.

I am going to talk about something else that I am passionate about nowadays, which is the customer experience.

I just had a really good experience, by the way.

Just 1 hour ago I went to the do-it-yourself store because I need to put up a projector, a large, heavy projector up to the ceiling.

And I have never done that before. So I asked for a little bit of advice, and the lady was perfect, giving me the best advice on the plugs to use and which screws and what works on which kind of wall and ceiling.

And I was very pleased with the feedback and the input that I got.

That was a good customer experience. But I have a couple of more

examples about the experience from a more holistic angle because that's what this is about.

This session is from Product Management to Customer experience.

Let me share my screen. I will guide you through the ideas that I have for you.

So, first of all, let me start with an example.

I'm sure some of you have seen Segways before. Well, the Segway was introduced around 2001, if I recall well. And at the time, it was considered a failure.

And the experts such as Steve Jobs and John Dor, famous venture capitalists, and others said that this would be the next big thing.

This would revolutionize everything. It would be bigger than the PC, bigger than the Internet, and complete disruption of mobility in cities.

And guess what?

Didn't happen?

They had completely missed forecasted the success of the Segway.

Now, what was the problem?

Well, some people say it was too expensive, but I don't really buy that argument because many new products start as being very expensive, and then they drop in price once they get popular enough.

It was not the expense, it was the experience; according to some articles that I read, for example, when you stand on a Segway, you stand out from the crowd; everyone is looking at you.

And that was the experience that people had when they were going around Segways.

Everyone was watching them. So suddenly you had to mind what clothes you were wearing and if your hair was okay. And people didn't really like that, but everyone was watching them.

That was a bad experience for the users of Segway. Now, I have a good experience with Segway personally.

A couple of years ago when I was in Barcelona with my kids, my daughter, and my son, I was trying to be a cool dad, so I was trying to find things to do with my kids.

And then I saw tourists on Segways, and I thought that's fine, we're going to do that.

So we went around on our Segways with the tourist guide from The Secret of Amelia to the beach and back, and that was a wow experience.

But it was the only time in my life that I had been on a Segway. I have never used it since. And actually Segway has found its niche markets in exactly these kinds of situations with tourist guides and employees at airports, for example, who need to stand out and who need to go quickly from one place to the other.

People patrolling an area, for example. But that is by far not the huge market that they had predicted at that time.

Now, there was nothing wrong with the technology but the experience made all the difference. And I sometimes use what I call the 25 drives grid which is a mash-up that I have created based on various sources of motivation and human drives.

And in the case of the Segway, you could say what motivated me at the time was family.

You find that one at the bottom. I wanted to spend time with my family but also beauty. I wanted to enjoy the beauty of Barcelona, which you find there on top.

Maybe curiosity.

I have never been on a Segway before, so I wanted to try it out.

Also, the freedom that you find in the very corner over there because, well, it gives you

a sense of freedom going around the Segway, not being dependent on public transport and stuff.

So you see a couple of drives, human drives were triggered, and as I said, I made this model based on various inputs from researchers and scientists, self-determination research and the 16 drives of Stephen

Rice and Daniel Pink's book Drive, which is very famous, and I turned it into my own colorful model where I distinguished two dimensions.

The first one is the vertical one, which is a need versus desire.

I have that distinction from the two-factor theory actually by Herzberg who said that the things that motivate us are not the opposite of the things that demotivate us.

For example, I am demotivated when I lose my freedom. Then I want to get it back

because freedom is for me a need. I am motivated by great food and nice restaurants that would be a desire to eat at such places.

I don't feel motivated for getting my freedom and I don't feel demotivated for missing out on a great hamburger or whatever.

So those are not opposites of each other. Some things are desires, they pull us

and other things are our needs. We want not to lose them, basically.

So that is the vertical axis.

We also have a horizontal axis which is intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

This difference is well known among many consultants and coaches and project managers, I am sure.

Some things we love doing because of the activity itself. Other things we like doing because of the outcomes that we get.

So for example, intimacy cuddling with your partner, that would be an intrinsically motivating thing. But having influence or power in a group, that would be extrinsically motivating.

It takes a lot of work to become an influential person, but then the outcome can be very rewarding. So that is the horizontal axis of the 25 drives grid.

Actually it is only 24 drives because in the middle you find an empty slot.

You can add your own there. Whether it is joy or money or whatever, that's up to you.

But I find this model useful for understanding customer experience, for understanding what triggers people to use this product, what is important for them, because we need to know better.

And there is one famous expert, Clayton Christensen. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago. He's famous for popularizing the innovator's dilemma and also what is called the job to be done.

I will talk about that in a moment. But he said new products succeed not because of the features and functionality they offer, but because of the experiences they enable.

It is not about the product, it is about the experience.

It is not about the Segway and its technologies. It is about me enjoying Barcelona

with my kids on a Segway. So I hire the Segway o give me that experience of joy and freedom and beauty and curiosity at that moment, in that context.

And Kathy Sheriff, a famous game designer, said something similar the secret to building great products is not making awesome features, it is making awesome users.

That is the job of your product. Make people feel awesome about themselves and

they use your product for that. I felt awesome as a cool dad in Barcelona, and the Segway helped me to get that experience. So this is called the job to be done.

You could also call it the gap to be closed. Because I did a bit of research into happiness a few years ago for my book Managing for Happiness.

And what I found is basically you can summarize it as follows.

People have a current situation, they have an expectation, and they need to close that gap.

That's what they want. Closing the gap makes people happier.

Now, you can do that in two ways.

The first is to lower your expectations. This would be the Buddhist approach. You could say just accept things as they are and you will be happier.

And that works.

I also often say that this is the way to survive 20 years of marriage. That's my little marriage counseling trick there. Lower your expectations. But what usually works best is to increase your situation. And that's what we buy products and services for.


This is what fuels the economy. We buy stuff to improve our situation, and that will temporarily close the happiness gap. Interestingly enough, I found on the Scrum.org website exactly the same picture where they called it the customer satisfaction gap.

There's a current experience, a desired experience, and then the satisfaction gap needs to be closed or at least narrowed.

That is what scrum should be about. But that is what project and product management should be about.

What is it that people would like to experience? Now, as I said, the experts refer to this as the job to be done, the progress that a customer desires to make in a particular circumstance, says Clayton Christensen, or the process of reaching objectives under given circumstances.

So it's always context dependent and it's always about something that people need or desire.

Let me talk about drilling in walls again. As I said, I just went to the do it yourself store. I do have a drill. I bought it a year ago or something. It was the first time in my life that I actually have my own drill before it. I borrowed it usually from other people, but I wanted to have my own one.

And why did I buy a drill? Well, it is definitely not just to make holes in the wall. That does not make me a happier person to see holes in the wall.

Why do I make a hole in the wall? Well, I want to secure a hook. Why? Because I want to hang up a painting. Or currently I want to hang up a projector for a home cinema experience.

So what is it ultimately about?

It is about me enjoying my home, to make my home a nicer, prettier, more livable place for me to enjoy together with my spouse. Whether it is putting up artworks on the walls or a video projector, it doesn't matter.

We want to decorate and express our style. That is what makes us happier.

So the job to be done of the drill is to help people improve their home experience, to express their lifestyle.

Sometimes you have to ask why a couple of times to capture that job to be done of a product or a service.

And what we sometimes distinguish between is the pains versus the gains.

The pains are the problems and the struggles and the frustrations that individuals want to get rid of.

And we hire products to get rid of pain and then we feel better.

Sometimes we hire products for a gain, an opportunity, an enjoyment of something that is desirable.

Well, you see here that pains and gains basically correspond with the needs and desires.

The gains are something, are things that we pursue, whether it's beauty or competence, or curiosity.

The pains are things we don't want to lose. We don't want to lose our health, we don't want to lose our family, and we don't want to lose our feeling of safety. Those are pains if we lose them or risk of losing them.

It also works at a very small level, this distinction. For example, smartphone. So everyone has these nowadays and like many others, I sometimes purchase accessories for pain relief, such as a magnetic mount in my car to put my smartphone there as a navigation device because just putting it next to me on a chair doesn't work.

Then the smartphone goes all over the place. That's a pain that makes it more dangerous to drive my car.

So I bought that thing, that magnetic mount as a pain relief. But I also bought a cover. Now for me that was pain relief because I don't want to risk damaging my phone. So I have a very boring transparent cover. But some people see that as a game creation. They buy pretty covers with decoration or maybe even self knitted covers.

Then it changes from being a pain relief to being a game creation. That is another kind of job to be done.

Here's another example. What about shopping? Well, for me to be honest, shopping is a pain relief. Very often I just need to refill my closet and my pantry and my fridge in the most convenient way possible.

So that's just a simple pain relief. But sometimes shopping is enjoyable and then it's a game creation, then it is desirable.

And it's interesting that we saw this big change happening in society during cognitive times.

Many people figured out and found out that it's actually pretty convenient to do shopping online.

I buy many things online nowadays, I don't go out the door anymore.

That's pure convenience and that is the pain relief that these shops, these online shops have addressed.

So what about the retail in the city center?

They have seen customers disappearing to online stores so they are trying to get customers back with a better customer experience and usually they focus on game creation.

I have seen stores with baristas making great coffee or DJs or art expositions in the stores.

Just anything to get people back to shopping in the city center and make shopping a delightful experience.

So you see the nature of shopping has changed in the last few years and then shopping has become a job as an activity, has changed from being a job as an activity to being a job as an outcome.

Sorry, the other way around its job as an outcome or a job as an activity, that's intrinsic versus extrinsic need is the difference here.

It is intrinsically enjoyable for people now to go shopping in the city center while in the past we just might want to have an outcome, the outcome of just getting that gadget or the piece of clothing.

So you see the different dimensions of the 25 desires apply to jobs to be done and I find it, as I said, very important to try and understand what triggers people.

Is it the pain or gain, is it intrinsic versus extrinsic?

And there's a couple of other things that are worth mentioning about the job to be done.

First of all, it is a stable thing.

What people want to achieve is usually rather stable over time.

Parents have wanted to have delightful experiences with their kids for hundreds, thousands of years.

That is a stable job to be done to be a great dad. And traveling is another example. We want to see our friends. We want to see our family members, we want to visit them. That is a very stable job to be done.

Now, the products that we hire to get this job done, they change all the time. They replace each other continuously. We have used compasses, we have used horses and carriages, we have used maps. And now we use navigation devices and Uber cars or whatever. They all help you get to your friends and family. So there's a rather wide category.

Sometimes the job to be done in solution agnostic. And then we often have a lot of choice for the same or similar jobs to be done.

For example, here in my city in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, I have lots of options when it comes down to getting from one place to the other.

I can use public transport, I can use my own bicycle, I can walk.

I can have lime scooters, Uber bikes, Uber cars, and whatnot.

A lot of different options to choose from. Which one do I pick? Well, that depends on context.

  • What is the weather?
  • Am I with friends?
  • Do I need to be there fast?
  • Am I carrying heavy stuff around?
  • Is it delightful weather?
  • And do I want to enjoy the trip itself?
  • Then I might go walking, actually.

So sometimes these different options are each other's competitors, but sometimes they are not.When it is raining, then my bicycle is simply not an option. Then the public transport would be the better option, or an Uber car might be even

more convenient when I'm carrying heavy stuff. So they all have different kinds of experiences that they offer, which means they set themselves apart from others by targeting at specific situations.

And that is important concept of jobs to be done in customer experience.

It is about the context in which your product is the best one. It is not about demographical information. It is not about we offer a mobility product for middle-aged men of above-average income, etcetera, et cetera.

No, that makes no sense, that kind of demographical segmentation for the jobs to be done.

It is about the context.

Is it raining or not? Am I carrying heavy stuff or not, et cetera.

Here's another example of a job to be done the customer experience. And Netflix understands pretty well what their job to be done is. Reid Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, said, we compete with everything you do to relax. We compete with video games. We compete with drinking a bottle of wine. That's a particularly tough one.

You said, we compete with other video networks. They even compete with board games. Anything that people do to relax is competition. And that means they understand pretty well what the context is in which people take their tablet or whatever and open the Netflix app and start binging I can only watch Netflix or use my PlayStation, but I cannot do both at the same time when I have an hour to kill. Reading a book is another option. So reading novels is also competition for Netflix.

It's all in the same space.

It's early evening, I have an hour to kill.

What can I do? Well, I have these three options. What is most fun tonight? Well, sometimes I pick Netflix, sometimes I pick a novel. So that's the job to be done again.

Here's another example. Sometimes I tell people when I travel, I just want the best. I'm a coffee lover, usually cappuccinos and lattes. That's what like most. And as I said, what I usually aim for is the best coffee in the city. So I opened up Google Maps to figure out what is the highest rated coffee bar that is open right now.

However, if you look what I'm doing, you find me sometimes sitting at a Starbucks. Well, that is not the best coffee in the city. Usually, for me, that is at the bottom end of the acceptable range, I always say.

So why do I end up at a Starbucks while I say that I want the best coffee in the city? There are other places with better coffee. Well, then I could say, Well, I went there, but I was not allowed to open my computer. That happened several times and they sent me away and said, this is not the kind of place where you can work. Other times there was not even a room to sit. So in that case to go somewhere else. And Starbucks is a place where you can sit, where you have WiFi and where you can do your work for a couple of hours. So the real job to be done is actually not having great coffee. It is having a decent place to sit with a coffee beverage or something similar and get my work done when I'm in digital nomad traveling around the world.

Starbucks understood this, by the way, because when they launched many years ago, they defined this as the third place between office and home, as a place where you are temporarily sitting down to get some stuff done.

And they understood the job to be done. Now, the point here is that you often need to observe what people are doing because they say one thing, but they actually need something else, or they desire something else. Very often customers are not even able to describe their own needs and desires. They don't realize what they are after.

It is for you to analyze this and you can do that by observing what they're really doing and asking questions. Because the customer might say one thing, but when you look what they're doing, you see a hint that what they're asking for is actually not what they need.

And for me, this is one insight about the agile community where I think we can improve significantly because I have seen so many times in the past in the agile community at large, and also among project and product managers, that what they do is not much more than just taking customer requests,i mplementing the features that were asked for, and then delivering them as fast as possible.

And then customers don't use the features.Well, then apparently you haven't really understood what they truly need, what they truly desire.

You can only get that by having customer interviews, observing their behaviors, and then asking questions about what they're doing.

I had a very similar experience, very enlightening experience myself a year ago. I was making a product and people were raving about it. Customers said, this is so cool, et cetera. And when I looked at their behavior, I saw that they hadn't used it for a couple of months.

So I did customer interviews with a number of them, and I asked them, what do you think about what we're doing? And they said, Oh, this is all so great, and it's super app, et cetera.

And then I said, but you're not using it. What is the issue here?

And then some apologized to me for not using the product because they didn't have time. They said it was so difficult to integrate it in their difficult work lives if only I had a bit more time.

Well, that taught me something. That it taught me that I misunderstood the real job to be done here.

For this particular product, I had to rethink how to redefine the product in a way that it would make it easier for people to use in their busy work life.

So that's for me, on the backlog, I will revisit that product at some point.

But that was a great learning experience for me, is seeing that customers say one thing, oh, it is so super cool what you're doing, and then doing something else, not using the product.

Well, then the product fails. Of course, Steve Jobs was a master at these kinds of observations.

He said, It is not the customer's job to know what they want or need.

It is our job to understand this by observing people and truly comprehending what is the need and the desire behind their behaviors.

And as another example, I often refer to Tesla. Nowadays, in the agile community, we have often been inspired by Toyota for good reasons. For several decades, we have taken lots of advice and ideas from Toyota because of the

Toyota production system and lean manufacturing, et cetera. But nowadays, Tesla rules.

I just recently looked at Tesla's market cap and the value of Tesla is equal to the

total value of the next ten car manufacturers.

Imagine that more than $1 trillion.

They don't make as many cars, but they do things completely differently compared to other car makers.

And there's a lot more faith in how Tesla approaches car manufacturing and the customer experience around it.

Oh, and by the way Tesla spends no money on advertising, they find other ways to reach people.

So what is the Tesla experience? Well, as one author said, that rave worthy experience is shaped not just by the Tesla vehicles themselves, but also by the live print and digital touch points that the company has with car buyers and owners.

So it is about all those touch points, all those moments of interaction around our ownership that you need to optimize, where you're trying to figure out what makes people happy.

How can we close the happiness gap? What are the needs and desires behind car ownership here? So, for example, for some people it is important that Tesla has this mission accelerating the world's transition to renewable energies.

So that's a great mission.

Some people really buy into that, but for others it is customer service details. For example, Tesla automatically updates the software of your car. You wake up one morning, you get into your car and it turns out that the performance has improved because of an update. You never asked for it.

And also they detect when things are wrong, the car tells you that there is a problem with something, and oh, by the way, a replacement part is already on pre order. You didn't even know there was an issue. And Tesla has already proactively acted on it because Tesla can see in the car with the software that they have that's great customer experience.

And many car brands have never approached customer experience that way. You have to figure out yourself that there was something wrong and then contact the local car dealer. And it was all a big hustle.

It's even in funny details.

I remember a half a year ago or something, there were these viral videos being uploaded to YouTube and TikTok because people found an Easter egg in their Tesla cars. If you said, hey, Tesla opened butthole, then it turns out that the rear charge port opens automatically and hey, Tesla closed butthole, then it closes.

And people thought that was hilarious.

They loved it, they made videos of it, they shared it with friends, and that's free advertising.

So that's one way of doing marketing. Free marketing. Just let people rave about their experience.

But also it is an ownership thing. Some people see their car as almost like a pet.

They even give names to their cars. I'm a person like that. My previous car was called Beast.

So they personalize their cars and by pretending that the car has physical anatomy like humans, you just emphasize the fact that this is something that you want to care for, that you want to care about.

That is the Tesla experience.

So summarizing, happiness is experience. It is not stuff. We are not in the business of making bites or atoms. We are in the business of creating endorphins. Dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Those are the happiness molecules.

As I said. What can you do with your products to generate these happiness and molecules. And maybe even we should rename some terms such as the product backlog, product roadmap, product manager why not the experience backlog and the experience roadmap and the experience manager.

That will be more holistic because the product is only one thing, but the customer experience with all its touch points with the company is much bigger often.

And in this book, Network Scaled and Agile, I found this quote where they said there are examples abound of the crippling effects of agile business units that cannot work together to deliver a complete customer experience at the enterprise level.

I sometimes say that in the agile community we have replaced vertical silos with horizontal silos.

We have scrum teams and can then teams and value stream oriented teams that are responsible end to end for their part of the value stream.

But there are also other teams doing the same thing for their own particular product areas.

And sometimes the problems are in the disconnect between the web app versus the Android app, for example, or between the product versus customer service, or between the finance and marketing.

They all have touch points with the customer and the entire experience needs to be optimal.

I'll give you one last example before I wrap up. Recently I removed an app from my smartphone. It was an app that I use for shopping groceries as convenience.

I used it ten times and out of those ten times it happened three times that they came to my house with one item missing.

Then an hour before they said sorry, we ran out of yogurt. And that made me very angry because I had placed the order two days before.

That should be plenty of time to get yogurt from somewhere.

Actually, I have five supermarkets at walking distance from my house, so I can easily walk to the supermarket and get yogurt.

And that's what I had to do in three of those cases. So I said this is not working.

I can just go get everything from the supermarket.

If I have to go there to get the last one missing item, then why not get everything?

This is useless. Such an app. So in this case the product was great. It was a delightful app, nothing wrong with the app, very well designed.

But logistics dropped the ball in this case and I was annoyed and I removed the app. So one example, yet another example of the complete customer experience.

And for that reason I have included an experienced crew in what I call the Unfix model. That is the new organization design model that I am working on that is still evolving, that I try to offer as a complementary tool for those who use agile frameworks or other tools to improve their organizations. It focuses exclusively on design and I say you probably need an experienced crew, a team that just monitored the entire customer journey from the very first moment that someone discovers your company, your product, to the final moment when they say goodbye.

Thanks for the great journey that we had together. It is time to part our ways. That entire experience that could cross multiple products and services and touch points and marketing and finance and logistics and whatnot, all of that is one all experience that we need to monitor.

So that's one item out of the onsix model, in case you're interested, I'm happy to talk more about it. And, yeah, that's it.

I hope you found some of this interesting. As I said, customer experience is very important to me.

I hope I made it a little bit more important to you as well.

And thanks for joining and enjoy the rest of the PM 72 event. Thanks. Bye.