Des Traynor wrote of the best posts I’ve ever read about creating products:
Focussing on outcome, rather than category, industry, or product type, lets you understand your real competitors. The second a company focusses on “the industry it’s in” rather than the “outcome it delivers“, it loses touch, and shortly after, loses customers.
Newspapers, for example, believed they were in the “Newspaper Industry”, and as such struggled to work out why bored commuters had stopped buying their product. They would look left and right at their competitors and wonder which newspaper had stolen their customers. They would experiment with new formats, new layouts, lower prices, sharper headlines, but they couldn’t stop the rot. Had they instead focussed on the outcome they deliver (bored commuters want to entertained for short bursts of time with bite sized articles), then their competitors (Twitter, Facebook, News apps) wouldn’t have been so oblique to them.
Understanding the job your product is serving to your customer is a complete shift in thinking for how most companies operate. People don’t think outside of their direct competitors. The real question to answer is what will wipe out you and all your competitors in the future.
It’s why Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion and just offered $3 billion for Snapchat – someone is solving the photo sharing and communication problems better than they do.