Avoiding Mistletoe Mishaps: A Jobs­-To­-Be-­Done (Cautionary) Holiday Tale

by Tony Ulwick

During the holiday season, you should be aware of an often overlooked holiday peril: mistletoe. While many people innocently “hire” mistletoe as a lure for encouraging romance, we have discovered that mistletoe not only fails to get the job done, but its use has unintended consequences that frequently result in embarrassing and awkward situations.

Of course, being the target of unwanted affection can make anyone squeamish, and trying to avoid the look of complete humiliation may be a difficult act to pull off. On the other hand, reacting uncontrollably and awkwardly to a sudden, unexpected display of affection from your dream date, could quickly put an end to any potential romance. Worst of all, your mistletoe mishap could be captured and shared on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, forever documenting your viral-worthy reaction.

Let’s face it, avoiding mistletoe mishaps is an under served job-to-be-done. This functional job, like many others, is much more complex than it appears. To be successful at avoiding such mishaps, you would have to be able to (1) detect the presence of mistletoe and potential affection-eers, (2) assess your risk of being a potential target, and (3) formulate and execute your avoidance (or acceptance) strategy. Getting the whole job done is not easy.

Of course, you could cobble together a number of ad hoc solutions and hope for the best. For example, you could try to avoid mistletoe mishaps by declining invitations to holiday gatherings, by walking briskly past punch bowls, chandeliers, and entry ways, and by wearing holiday-appropriate, protective head gear. But does combining incompatible and ineffective solutions ever work? Could there be a better solution for getting the job done?

After more than our share of organic, locally sourced eggnog, the Strategyn team decided to tackle this problem. We would like to to introduce: The Mistletoe MishapApp. Yes, this fully integrated smartphone app (that we defined without pivoting) gets the entire job done on a single platform. Like most Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI)-based products, the Mistletoe MishapApp is targeted at a highly underserved segment that is willing to pay more to get the job done better. (Why anyone would pursue a low-end disruptive strategy in a highly overserved segment is beyond our comprehension.)

The Mistletoe MishapApp (yes, a purpose brand) detects mistletoe and potential affectioneers, uses proprietary algorithms to assess personal risk, and formulates a customized strategy for you to execute (patents pending). It uses holiday berry detection and avoidance technology to address over 50 underserved outcomes. The solution is targeted at avid holiday party-goers who may have been “overserved” (now that’s solid innovation humor) and cannot risk a rogue, viral video damaging their well-managed reputation.

The Mistletoe MishapApp simply and elegantly nails it. But why stop there? As we embarked down this path of uncovering holiday jobs-to-be-done, we also discovered other markets worth considering. While listening to holiday music blaring throughout our in depth interviews we learned, for example, that people want to (i) make a list that they don’t have to check twice, (ii) keep chestnuts from igniting on an open fire, and (iii) make sure grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer. So many markets, so little time.
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image credit: strategyn.com

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Tony UlwickTony Ulwick is the pioneer of jobs-to-be-done thinking and the inventor of Outcome-Driven Innovation. He is the author of the best-selling book What Customers Want and has published articles in the Harvard Business Review. He holds 5 patents on his innovation process. As the founder of Strategyn, he has generated billions of dollars in revenue growth for dozens of global firms.

One comment

  1. To the tune of jingle bells we replace this with jobs-to-be-done.

    “Dashing through the snow
    In a one horse open sleigh
    O’er the fields we go
    Laughing all the way
    Bells on bob tails ring
    Making spirits bright
    What fun it is to laugh and sing
    A sleighing song tonight”

    The Mistletoe MishapApp not just detects but tells you the best jobs-to-be-done so you nail it.

    Yep clearly a ‘must have’ for Outcome Driven Solutions and knowing you have a ‘progressive’ year ahead.

    Happy Christmas Tony By the way anymore of that eggnog left?

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