Last week I had an interesting experience with value proposition. 

Recently I was working with the initiative to stop human trafficking. The leaders of this initiative are moving towards crating an organization that would be  an international hub for information exchange - a platform business startup. I have been asked to help them design how that would work.
Rather than having the principals of the startup build vp canvases for their customer segments, identify their assumptions and test, we had a rare opportunity with the 3rd summit of “Together Let’s Stop Human Traffick”. We had 25 representatives of potential customers in a room, so we engaged them to build vp canvases.
I walked them through a collaborative exercise for each group of participants to identify key jobs they have to do. The groups them mapped what they felt were their key pains and gains for those jobs and tried to set some priorities on each.
The core group working on the business launch over the past two summits are convinced there were 4 key services they need to deliver. So we started with that as the offer. We asked the groups to put down how they thought the four services could help them reach their outcomes and address the key pains they are experiencing. We used separate colours for each of the services. We also allowed them to identify (using a separate colour) a service they would like to see and how that service would create or relieve. This produced a lot of critical information for the startup to consider in how their hub has to operate.
It was an inversion of the design process I usually use with a startup. A rare occasion where a startup has customers in a room. I only had what amounted to less than a day to do this work, but the result was very informative for the core group, and interviews with the customers afterwards indicated the process help them feel more engaged with the building of this organization. Up to this point they felt outside the building process, this helped them feel more a part of the process.

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Great twist! Reasoning outside of the principle.

Sometimes I do something similar to demonstrate product-led thinking vs customer-led thinking.

I use the milkshake example, and the ask the participants to think with me from left to right on the vp canvas, ie, what are the pain reliever/gain creators, then pains/gains that relate to them, and lastly the jobs. You'll get a very narrow view on customer jobs from this. After pointing them out, I tell them about Christensen's famous consultancy story, and how they cracked the problem by looking beyond the specific product related jobs. 

Another example of how doing things the wrong way round, can lead to the right type of insights :)

Interesting perspective. Are you not concerned that starting with the product view would filter your perception of the customer?

When using the VP canvas approach I believe it is important to get the customer profile done in absence of thinking about the product or services on offer, to give you an unfiltered view of the jobs and associated pains and gains.

Once the profile has been done, the design process cam be done in a couple of ways. Inductive - where one starts with the pains and gains to see how to solve them, then use the creators and relievers to design an offer of products and services. Deductive - when one has an offer in mind and they use the pains and gains to test how well the offer scan relieve or create.

hi mike, the purpose of that exercise is to actually experience how starting off with the product view filters your perception of the customer, and how it leads to a narrow understanding of your customer's jobs. 

So, first you do it the wrong way round, thinking from product, then you do it the right way around, start with a specific customer in a specific context, and then work to product.

Agree. It`s a great opportunity to learn your customers. As Dan Kennedy said, it will help you to find the key to their needs and it is the best way to engage them with your products.

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