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  • Jobs to be Done: Theory, Examples, and Statements JTBD

    17 min read

    Brand Strategy

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    What Is Jobs To Be Done?

    Jobs to be Done is an approach to business operations focused on the clear understanding of the underserved pain points of the customer. This alone is a vast improvement over alternative approaches since it does not rely on luck and avoids wasting time and money on irrelevant or suboptimal alternatives.

    JTBD is a methodology that does not ask about the characteristics of customers that are then used to make assumptions about their needs, but about the higher-level tasks (Customer Jobs) they want to accomplish. It’s a proactive approach to the tangible work your customers need you to complete, focused more on the results of the partnership than the relationship itself.

    This leads to a new perspective on product and consumer, as well as prospective competition. In practical application, the approach can be combined well with familiar methods, such as those from design thinking.

    What Makes Jobs To Be Done Different?

    In the past, customer-centric operations almost always meant the same approach: Getting to know and characterizing one’s own customers as well as possible in order to be able to draw conclusions about their (consumer) behavior and needs from their characteristics.

    What sounds sensible at first glance, however, is not entirely flawless. The principle of “Jobs to Be Done” (JTBD) represents an alternative approach with which you can gain more direct access to your customers.

    Much more about JTBD and other approaches to innovation strategy you will find in our brand-new FREE book “How to Create Innovation” Register for the download now!

    Until now, the general principle has been that the better you know your target group and can describe them, the better the products and services you can develop based on these considerations. Detailed personas were used to give customers a face and a personality.

    The purpose of all this was to be able to put oneself in the shoes of one’s own customers – after all, one is often not even part of the target group oneself. But you cannot simply predict a person’s actions from their characteristics. There are many correlations between a person’s characteristics and their actions.

    Another common mistake is to focus too much on a particular product or misunderstand customer needs. Theodore Levitt famously said,

    “Customers don’t want a drill, they want a hole in the wall.”

    Theodore Levitt

    Instead of focusing on developing a better drill, we should concentrate on the actual problem.

    Jobs to be Done Customer's Job Statement
    The UNITE Jobs to Be Done Customer’s Job Statement
    Designed by: Digital Leadership AG – Source: Helge Tennø.

    How should you structure your business most efficiently? This is where the UNITE Jobs-to-be-Done Statement and Map come into play. The JTBD Framework enables you to drive customer-centric growth and innovation processes to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.

    The Jobs To Be Done Theory

    If marketers, decision-makers, or product developers want to improve business results, they have to understand the jobs that arise in the life of our customers. We must provide solutions. Understanding who these people are is the wrong unit of analysis.

    What we really want to know is what they are trying to get done. At the center of the theory is the “Job:” a job is a fundamental problem a customer needs to resolve in a given situation. The Jobs to be Done Theory pushes us to understand the customer experience. Why do customers come to us, and not the competition? Is it because we have the product with the highest specifications? Are we the cheapest? Or is it due to our fantastic marketing department?

    Jobs to Be Done Framework

    The Jobs to be Done Theory includes a framework you can use to build practical solutions to your customers’ specific problems and challenges. The Jobs to be Done Framework explores how to write a Job Statement and a Job Map that helps describe how your customers are currently addressing these needs so you can adjust your strategies accordingly.

    We’ve written a separate article that discusses the Jobs to be Done Framework in much more detail. In it, you’ll also find guidance for interviewing your customers to better understand how you can help them meet their goals, Click Here for more Info.

    The Jobs to be Done theory is based on three assumptions

    When you decide to adopt a Jobs to be Done approach, you are agreeing to work within some simple assumptions that drive decision-making.

    1. Customers buy a product or service to perform a specific task.

    A passenger doesn’t want a ride in a cab, he wants to reach a place. A construction worker doesn’t want to push a wheelbarrow, he wants to move material from one place to the next. A payroll specialist doesn’t want a computer program, she wants an easy method for tracking hourly wages.

    Such a task becomes the job to be done.

    2. The task is at the heart of strategies and innovations.

    Products evolve over time, but the job to be done remains fundamentally the same.

    As a result, if the customer’s needs are always initially conceived as the JTBD, they remain stable and valid for longer periods. Companies can remain focused on outcome-driven innovation.

    3. The jobs of your customers open up completely new perspectives for you.

    JTBD allows strategy, Disruptive Innovation, and product creation to be based on stable customer needs that offer the greatest value creation potential. We solicit customer insights to serve them better.

    Because we think about the Job to Be Done, we invest in developing solutions that have practical market value.

    Jobs to Be Done Customer Criteria Template

    Jobs to be done Customer Criteria template
    The UNITE Jobs to Be Done Template for Defining Customer Criteria
    Designed by: Digital Leadership AG – Source: Strategyn

    Jobs to Be Done Examples

    Successful businesses address customers’ needs by helping them complete their Job to be Done. Below are some examples of innovations and companies that match the concept of JTBD.

    Where some of these products or companies are no longer in favor as much as they used to be, consider this: What changed, the product, the Job, or the needs and expectations of the customer? How can a company successfully complete one Job and make a transition when the environment changes?

    Job to Be Done Example (1):

    I want a mobile device that lets me listen to my music while I’m running.

    Customer’s Voice

    This Job to be Done has been addressed by two important devices: the Sony Walkman and Apple’s iPod. In both cases, these products took large leaps forward in making music mobile, and, importantly, giving the user an option to customize the experience beyond merely selecting a radio station.

    At their cores, the Walkman and the iPod are responding to the same Job to be Done, with the iPod taking advantage of new technologies and responding to user expectations regarding the portability of music.

    Job to Be Done Example (2):

    I want to easily shop for the book I want and get it quickly.

    Customer’s Voice

    It’s almost hard to remember that, when it started, Amazon only sold books. For its customers in those early days, Amazon solved the problem of book availability. Whereas a brick-and-mortar store was limited in how many different books it could stock, Amazon could draw upon a much larger variety. Amazon, of course, has expanded to include a number of different divisions and different businesses, but the founding principle of a wide selection being quickly available remains large in all of its activities. Amazon continues to be an example of what you can build with a good idea (and a quarter of a million dollars from your parents).

    Job to Be Done Example (3):

    I want to shop for books in a welcoming environment where I can consult experts who understand my tastes.

    Customer’s Voice

    What Amazon doesn’t offer is an environment that welcomes readers and book lovers into a physical space. That’s why concrete bookstores still persist (although in a diminished capacity) even in a world with a website like Amazon. Smaller bookstores provide a personal touch that responds to a Job to be Done that a retailer like Amazon just can’t offer.

    Physical bookstores stay in business because some customers want the experience of browsing the shelves or talking with the workers about new releases. This is especially true of the patrons who rely on smaller, independent bookstores. While these are becoming rarer and rarer, the bookstores that stay in business offer an experience that addresses a Job to be Done that a website could never hope to match.

    Job to Be Done Example (4):

    I want to connect to my classmates (and know who’s available to date).

    Customer’s Voice

    Facebook. Whatever you think of social media, and Facebook specifically, you can’t deny how large it now looms in the lives of many of its users. While coding and algorithms might be complicated, the JTBD Facebook completes is a fairly simple one, and surprisingly simple to the Job completed by physical bookstores: the site makes it easier for users to connect with one another. At first exclusive to college students, Facebook is now used by millions of people worldwide.

    Humans are social animals. Most of us crave some measure of connection and attention. Facebook facilitates and monetizes that craving.

    One of the best ways to understand your customers’ Jobs to be Done is to speak with them specifically about their goals and challenges. We find customers are often very generous with their input when they learn we’re striving to address how they work and what they need to be successful.

    Guidance for the conduction of these interviews is available in our article covering the Jobs to be Done Framework.

    Why Is The Jobs To Be Done Principle Is Important?

    The Jobs to Be Done principle can be applied in many areas and can support you in your company in many ways. For example, consider the following application areas:

    • Customer Centricity – Creating a shared awareness of customers and their needs for you and your team.
    • Customer SegmentationJTBD can serve as a basis for a new form of segmentation by asking for the different jobs.
    • Marketing – customer approaches can be made more accurate, for example by addressing relevant product features
    • Competitive intelligenceJTBD can provide a different perspective on the market and the competitive landscape.
    • Innovation – JTBD enables you to develop new products and business models that are more closely aligned with all the customer needs.

    How You Can Use Jobs To Be Done Yourself?

    In an independent study of different innovation methods, innovation consulting firm Strategyn, one of the companies which have developed and led the Jobs to be Done approach, found that the success rate of their innovative approach was 86% compared to the average success rate of traditional innovation methods, which was 17%. Clearly, a targeted innovation strategy approach naturally outperforms most ideation/luck-based methods.

    Jobs Theory and the Jobs to be Done practices can be valuable tools for thinking of new ideas and developing breakthrough products that improve your business’s value proposition.

    Jobs to Be Done Building Block in Value Proposition Canvas

    The following steps provide you with a common ground that will support you in applying the method. It can best be implemented in the form of a workshop.

    The question of why

    Ask yourself why customers use your product and what tasks they want to perform with it? Consider not only the functional aspects but also emotional and social aspects. Each participant formulates their ideas on moderation cards, with one need on each card.

    Evaluate answers

    Collect the answers so that each creator explains them briefly. Group similar ideas together under one phrase. You can also optionally organize by type of need (emotional, functional, social).

    Translate goals into user stories

    Formulate both direct and indirect goals as user stories, such as “I buy the product to…”. Each goal should result in a user story.

    Ask why not

    Think about why customers don’t buy your product and also consider alternatives, competitors, or workarounds that customers use instead. Evaluate your product and alternatives in terms of customer goals and needs.

    Find potential for improvement

    Use the previous steps to identify areas for improvement in your product, service, or strategy. Formulate hypotheses to better meet customer needs and define metrics to measure success.

    Talk

    Talk to customers and non-customers. Ask the “why” and the “why not” questions. Watch users use your product or prototype, if applicable. Use the exchanges and observations to test the hypotheses.

    Jobs To Be Done Business Argument

    There is no point in going through all the hoops if we only end up making unproven, potentially biased assumptions about the customer based on our own gut feelings. This is why we recommend setting aside the necessary investments to include the customers in your work in a qualitative and quantitative way.

    Innovation badly needs increased investment security. The most optimistic statistics report that emerging corporate and private innovations have a failure rate of 70%, with the most negative statistics suggesting a 96% failure rate within the first four years.  Of those remaining, only a fraction of them is successful.

    Most innovations remain small and irrelevant to the overall market. The biggest reason for these shocking numbers is that people are not taking the time to understand their customers’ needs sufficiently. Instead of considering customers’ jobs, businesses push innovations forward blindly.

    What Matters In The JTBD Framework?

    The #1 problem when it comes to innovation is that we tend to analyze and understand the world entirely from the business’s own perspective. We lack the framework and mental models to include the customer in our conversations and decision-making. This cannot work and we see it in the numbers: most innovation projects fail.

    The Jobs to be Done framework foundation for creating value is a deep understanding of, among other things, what “tasks to do” a customer has in particular life situations, how he or she makes decisions about alternatives,

    what trade-offs are made, whether the “suffering” is so great that solutions are cobbled together and what forces are at work in making decisions for and against selecting new solutions. A cornerstone of the JTBD Theory is the recognition that customers “commission” products and services that help them complete a task and make progress in their lives. The more precisely one knows the task to be done and the decision-making process leading up to “commissioning” a solution,

    the more meaningful innovations can be developed. This framework doesn’t just help with strategic decisions, however. Even the question of which product features and functions to develop (and which not to develop) get great clarity when there is an understanding of what tasks a customer wants to be done.

    Related: What is Customer Relationships in the Business Model Canvas?

    Giving the Business a Clear Purpose

    Bottom line: Jobs to be Done Theory is a lens through which to see customers and their needs in a whole new light. It can be used not only to guide individual product or product strategy decisions, but to align the entire company with what customers need to be done. Instead of ambitious, lofty vision and mission statements, the entire company and all its processes are aligned with the customer in a way that is highly relevant to the customer.

    The tasks to be done serve as a “North Star” that can give the company a clear, customer-oriented purpose.

    Conclusion On Jobs to Be Done JTBD

    Jobs to be done is still a young theory or methodology that does not ask about the characteristics of customers, but about the higher-level tasks (jobs) they want to accomplish.

    This leads to a new perspective on product, user, and also competition. In practical application, the approach can be combined well with familiar methods, such as those from design thinking.

    The UNITE Business Model Framework: A Framework for Innovation Success

    How to Create Innovation includes a number of canvases that focus on value creation and finding the right business model to meet your customer segment and customer needs. The framework is built to inspire drastic changes that help you find a competitive advantage. Our hope is that your company grows through business model innovation, and so we again encourage you to look deeper into our website and the book.

    Here is a summary of the key ingredients of the Business Model Framework:

    Business Model framework
    The UNITE Business Model Framework
    Designed By: Digital Leadership AG

    Business Models

    The centerpiece is the Business Model Canvas, which covers the six main areas of a Business Model (the Operating, Value, Service, Experience, Cost, and Revenue Models).

    The eXtended Business Model Canvas adds the immediate business context, including Business Drivers, customers, and the team, as well as the Unfair Advantage.

    Detailed Models

    A Business Model can be broken out into its numerous aspects. Depending on what challenges you face, you can zoom in on your area of interest using an appropriate tool or canvas:

    • Your Business Intention and objectives as well as your Massive Transformative Purpose summarize your drivers and give direction to what you do.
    • The Value Proposition Canvas details the central components of your offering (the product or service).
    • To dig into your Customer Segments, work with data-driven Personas.
    • The JTBD Customer Job Statement and Job Map frame the JTBD of your customers.
    • The Business Model Environment puts your Business Model in a market context composed of emerging trends and disruptive forces.
    • The Innovation Culture Canvas helps you understand and consciously shape a culture that supports innovation.
    • The Innovation team structure enables you to draft a team structure for your innovation initiative.
    • Using learning and growth metrics, you can measure progress at the initial stages of development. These metrics help you focus on what really matters instead of creating a detailed business plan that will not really help you. Later on, you can expand the financial aspect of the Revenue and Cost Models with a full business case.
    • The Operating Model Canvas helps you think through the Operating Model.
    • Business Capability Map: A Practical Business Approach

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a customer’s Job to be Done?

    The fundamental problem a customer needs to resolve in a given situation.

    How do you write your customers’ Jobs to be Done?

    Build a strong foundation through customer outreach and testing. Dive down into the actual jobs your customers need accomplished and not ideas for solutions that haven’t been developed yet, Keep the description of the job simple, to its most basic elements.


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