To better understand Emotional Friction, we first need to start with its mirror opposite – Emotional Value. One of the best frameworks we have found to understand emotional value is the “jobs-to-be-done” theory. Jobs-to-be-done theory was created and coined by product innovator Bob Moesta and was later evolved and popularized in the book Competing Against Luck by the late Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and innovation thought-leader.
The foundational principle is that people “hire” products and services to deliver three basic needs: functional value (eg, it will save you time), social value (eg, it will impress your friends), and emotional value (eg, it will bring you joy).
According to Bob Moesta, “These three dimensions of value are present in each and every decision we make about whether or not to buy or try something new.”
For example, when you purchase a new winter jacket, these three values are likely at play in your decision-making in the following way:
Functional Value. How warm and dry you feel when wearing the jacket.
Social Value. What the style and brand of the jacket may signal about you to others (fashion conscious, wealthy, earthy, hipster, etc.).
Emotional value. How you feel about yourself when you wear it (and even when you see it hanging in your closet).
This framework is not limited to products and services. It applies to any idea or innovation. Consider the impact of Covid-19 on education. In the spring of 2020, schools at all levels rushed to shift their teaching online as the nation went into lockdown. Almost overnight, teachers had to shift their content and instruction to an online environment.
Fortunately, videoconferencing technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams were able to scale up to meet the wave of new demand. The functional value of this new technology, though, was only one piece of the puzzle. A second piece—far more complicated and challenging— was getting students and faculty comfortable with the idea of interacting online. In this case, the dimensions of value for teachers are determined by questions like this:
Functional Value. Do students learn as well online compared to the traditional in-person format? Does the technology have the right features to meet the different learning needs of the students in class? Is it easy to use?
Social Value. How well does it support the interpersonal interactions that students and teachers desire? How does its use make teachers appear to both students and their peers? Could fully embracing this technology make a teacher appear tech savvy? Could reluctance make them look out of touch with the times?
Emotional value. How confident or vulnerable do teachers feel while using this new technology? Does this shift inspire optimism or pessimism about the technology-driven world? Are teachers being set up for personal success or failure?
Jobs-to-be-done theory’s major advance was to recognize that value is multifaceted. But if emotion can be the reason why a person chooses to embrace a new idea, it can also be the reason we reject change.
Contributed to Branding Insider by: Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal. Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from their book The Human Element. Copyright © 2021 by Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal. All rights reserved.
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