Milkshakes do jobs. Sounds weird, right?
Clay Christensen, the author of Competing Against Luck, was asked to help a fast food company that experienced a milkshake sales slump. They wanted to find out why people weren’t buying their milkshakes. The fast food company had already conducted focus groups about taste and texture, but the results didn’t yield more sales. Christensen did some field work, watching how people bought milkshakes. After conducting that customer research, it turns out the milkshake’s job is to stave off hunger on their way to work (as a breakfast meal) as well as help dads and kids bond.
That was unexpected, but the results improved the way the company sold milkshakes.
It’s not just ice cream treats — “jobs to be done” is a concept that applies to UX and innovation. They all revolve around purpose: what is something supposed to do? It makes it easier to design for as well as easier to re-think the product. It even makes it easier to sell and package the product.
In addition to purpose, jobs have emotional and social aspects related to them. For example, the people buying milkshakes to stave off hunger still want something that tastes good. They want to feel satiated so they can perform at work. They need something fast that doesn’t bog them down in the car. And they need a milkshake to last just long enough for the drive.
Intranets do jobs as well.
Your intranet’s jobs
Your intranet probably enables employees to learn about the company – its goals and products or services. It probably provides company, industry and business news. It helps employees understand more about other departments, including how to interact with them.
In short, your intranet is there to inform employees, engage them and make them productive.
What makes your intranet’s jobs unique is how employees tackle these things. Is your workforce desk-less like construction workers or doctors? Do you have a high rate of people working from home?
Also, what are people primarily using your intranet to do? See their pay stubs? Check their benefits to make appointments? Review the cafeteria menu? See the company’s stock? Collaborate with team members on a key project that your organization There are personal and emotional reasons why people use the intranet that should be factored in.
There might even be something unique to your company – a giving program that promotes fun while donating time and money to worthwhile causes, working together nonstop to accomplish goals and more. Whatever that secret ingredient is for your organization, it needs to be part of your intranet.
Why focus on jobs?
Finding out the main purpose of why people use the intranet will increase adoption and usefulness. (They go together.) If it’s not useful, it’s not making people more productive and it’s not engaging your workforce. Why would anyone use it?
How to find out your intranet’s jobs
Maybe you’re not sure about why people are using your intranet or how. Perhaps you’re also unsure about the secret ingredient for your organization – what makes it special.
There are easy ways to find out that could make a big difference to usefulness and adoption.
- Look at the traffic logs to see which pages have the highest traffic?
- Use those same logs to find out when people are looking at the intranet. In the morning as they get in? At night?
- Identify how people are looking at the intranet – mobile, desktop, laptop.
- Locate the kinds of people who use your intranet. Some intranets have metrics that are as granular as which employees are reading specific pages. Any common traits? All from one department?
- See people’s bookmarks and favorited Should this information be available on your intranet site?
- Review whether employees are using metrics to determine progress on company goals. Can they see in an instant the company’s direction? Do they need to?
- Determine whether employees are socializing are your intranet. How? Are they leaving comments and rating information? Do they need to jump to an entirely different system, like Instant Message, to quickly communicate about projects?
- Watch people work. This idea is the most time consuming, but has the biggest payoff. Observe how they find information – using search or navigating around. Notice the resources they’re using, including those outside of your intranet. For example, your entire Customer Service team wants to have metrics about call volume, time to answer and more. They may also want information specific to the products and services they support.
Make changes to your intranet
You’ve observed behavior and have reviewed analytics. Now it’s time to put your ideas into action to make the intranet’s jobs more relevant.
For example, if you notice most people are using your intranet after business hours on their mobile device … and your intranet isn’t mobile-friendly, you know the intranet’s job isn’t being done. If an entire department is barely using your intranet, they’re not experiencing the job the intranet is doing.
Your intranet has a purpose. If it’s not being met, it explains why no one is using the intranet at your organization. With careful research and planning, it can be leveraged to do its job … including being the most useful tool at your organization. When it’s used, it’ll make people more productive and increase engagement.