Trustworthiness is the Achilles heel of digitalization

Forget about „Jobs to be done“ (JTBD) – the future is about „Decisions to be made“ (DTBM)

Most certainly you are familiar with the „Jobs to be done“ (JTBD) Framework?
Ever heard the quote “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”? This quote, which was made popular by Theodore Levitt, forms the foundation for the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory: the notion that people only buy products (like drills) to get a “job” done (e.g., create a quarter-inch hole). The Jobs-to-be-done framework allows to mind shift from optimizing the same product again and again towards identifying innovative ways off the beaten path to serve a given need (job).

I believe that this framework needs to be rethought or at least extended to fit the future of digitalization. Of course, people will still have Jobs-to-be-done and might hire your company to do the job for them. But the future is about something much deeper and mightier than doing jobs for you – it is about making decisions for you.

We already get a glimpse of that near future when we think about robo investor services making trading decisions for you, ebay agents making decisions on when to participate how in auctions for you or hr-agents pre-analysing the company fit of applicants.

These AI based solutions do not only do the job for you, they make a lot of – sometimes quite important – decisions for you. They deliver convenience on a much deeper level – as long as you can trust them.

Did you ever not fall asleep, because you were busy thinking about how to get that quarter-inch hole Theodore Levitt was talking about into your wall? Probably not. Companies addressing Jobs-to-be-done make our lifes easier – for sure. Companies taking over the decision making for you deliver convenience on a much deeper level – if you can trust them. Did you ever not fall asleep, because you were thinking about the right strategy for your retirement planning? Maybe… What keeps us up at night are Decisions-to-be-made not Jobs-to-be-done. And AI based services promise to make those decisions for you – more competent than you and in your best interest.

In some years time we might „hire“ autonomously driving cars to do the job of bringing us from A to B. But while doing so, the car will make an endless list of small and profound decisions for you. From which route to take and at which shop to pass by to how to react when irregularities occur.

The tricky thing is: these systems are way too complex for us to rationally assess their capability and motivation. The decision-making happens in a virtual, code based, non-linear and often undocumented interconnection of systems, products and partners. No way you can fully assess if these systems are for certain capable and on your side. You have to trust that they are. And if you don’t trust them you won’t hesitate to leave.

Trustworthiness is the Achilles heel of the next wave of digitalization. We need to design and manage trustworthiness as thoroughly as we design products and services. We need to design systems centered around trustworthiness. We need to generate a solid understanding of trust themes relevant to our customers, employees and partners and how we could address them through out our company, throughout all parts of our business model. We need to measure and optimize our trustworthiness – and cultivate trustworthiness in our organisations’ governance and culture.

A Decisions-to-be-made (DTBM) framework would be a great first step towards this kind of trust centered Design approach.

If you are interested in the development of a DTBM framework – contact me 🙂