An airline crew killed a puppy. Because their job description said, “Luggage goes in the overhead bin” (passenger dogs included, they thought). A global consumer goods firm wasted millions of digital marketing dollars. Because someone’s job description said, “digital.”

Job descriptions have turned into job restrictions.

It all started in 1922. Psychologist Morris Viteles observed a railway company’s accounting department. Each day, the clerks would calculate revenue, issue invoices, prepare statistics, and so on. Viteles identified 19 different tasks and documented them in what he called the job specification. With it, the railway firm could suddenly hire, train, and pay clerks in exactly the same way, time and time again. The job description revolutionized firms. Today, it destroys them.

The job description works under one important condition: What customers want doesn’t change. In other times, the job description was the perfect tool. Unfortunately, today is not “other times.”

What we want as customers is changing too fast, too often. We share cars—instead of buying them. We subscribe to music—instead of getting a CD. The list is long, and it’s getting longer.

Describing the job is no longer the answer—describing the outcomes is.

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Step back. Figure out what success looks like. Where do you want to be in three years’ time? What do customers truly value? How can you make a real difference in your place?

Once you know, ditch your job description. Do what’s right.

(The long version is on Marketing Week).

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This is my new TryThis.Blog. Now weekly & short. Season’s greetings! Thomas

PS: You can still test how brave you are—it’s free.