What Is Jobs To Be Done?
Jobs to be Done is about 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.
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 still quite young 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 you will find in our brand-new FREE book “How to Create Innovation”. Register for the download now!
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 (Customer 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.
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.” Instead of focusing on developing a better drill, we should concentrate on the actual problem.
How should you structure your business most efficiently? This is where the UNITE Jobs-to-be-Done Statement and Map come into play. The 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, for which they hire certain solutions. Understanding who these people are in the wrong unit of analysis.
What we really want to know is what they are trying to get done. Unsurprisingly, the underlying theory behind this is called Jobs to be 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?
The Jobs to be Done theory is based on three assumptions
The Jobs to be done theory has three basic assumptions.
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.
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 jobs to be done, 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.
Jobs to Be Done 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.
What is Jobs to Be Done Framework?
The Jobs to Be Done Framework is a process to understand what pain your customers are really struggling with. We are thus seeking to understand important but unmet user needs, not ideas about solutions for customers we do not know yet.
Jobs To Be Done Framework “Process”
There are different approaches to Jobs to be Done. We have attempted to take the best from JTBD thinking and model it in one common framework.
There are, however, other approaches that have their merits. Before you embark on a project, we suggest you look further into which approach best fits your needs, and most importantly, do not get too fixated on one approach. Use what is helpful.
Step 1: Framing the Job
We frame a Job to be Done using two steps:
- The one-sentence Job Statement helps us articulate all the customer’s needs in a given situation using their voice.
- The eight steps of the Job Map help us discover the smaller tasks and activities customers are doing to accomplish their job.
Customer Jobs Statement
The customer’s Job Statement uses a simple sentence structure using the customer’s own words, describing the outcome he or she is ultimately hoping to achieve or the struggle he or she wants to overcome.
The following sentence structure helps provide clarity:
- The Customer Voice: The statement is to be written from the customer’s perspective using their words and way of seeing the world. Start the statement with how they would identify themselves in this context. For example, “As a parent, I want to …”
- The Direction of Improvement: What is the type of improvement the customer wants? For example, an increase, or a decrease?
- What’s Being Improved: For example, health, taste, efficiency, or safety.
- Who’s Being Affected by the Improvement: For example, ordering produce, planning financial health, finding the right wine, or securing the health and safety of your family.
- Contextual Clarifier: What describes the specific situation the customer is in?
The Job Statement should be simple and direct. It should avoid prejudicing product teams toward one solution or another.
Be aware of some common pitfalls often encountered when writing the Job Statement.
Common mistakes when writing the Job Statement:
- Using your words, not the customer’s: Teams can easily use their own special terms and perspectives. Ask yourself, would a customer use these words to describe their experience?
- Forgetting that the customer is not you: Sometimes we assume the customer already knows the problem we want to solve or the product we haven’t made yet. Be sure the statement reflects the current knowledge and awareness of the customer.
- Losing the full picture: The customer always has a bigger perspective. Make sure not to describe your solution, but the customer’s situation where your future product has a role.
With the customer Job Statement in place, we have successfully brought the customer into the project and achieved alignment in the team about where to focus our efforts. We are ready to move to the next phase: discovering what the customer does when trying to complete their job.
The Universal JTBD Job Mapping
Using the eight steps of the Job Map, we outline the smaller tasks and activities customers are currently doing to accomplish their job.
The 8 Steps in Job Map:
- Define and plan: The customer consciously or subconsciously creates an initial plan for their approach to achieving their goal.
- Locate the input needed: The customer identifies and locates the information necessary for them to decide what to do.
- Prepare: The customer organizes and makes sense of the information, filters and qualifies it, establishes theories, and goes to find more information or chooses to make a decision about what to do.
- Confirm and validate: The customer makes a decision to take action and validates it.
- Execute: The customer performs the action or procedure leading from the decision.
- Monitor: As the decision is executed the customer monitors the effects and outcome.
- Modify: Monitoring creates new information which leads the customer to assess their original decision. Did they make a good decision, or do they need to go back and make a new decision based on their new data? Do they just conclude (move to the next phase), or do they continuously monitor and improve their decision?
- Conclude: In some jobs, the customer concludes at some point that their journey is over. They take stock of their situation based on their assessment from the modify phase and conclude if they were happy or not and learn from it.
These steps aren’t necessarily sequential or linear. That is why it is called a map and not a journey. There might be loops, sending the customer back and forth between the steps. Some of the steps might happen in parallel. Some steps might be intuitive and take seconds to complete, while for others the same step might take weeks or months.
The amount of tasks and activities you will be able to identify depends on the job, but don’t be surprised if you identify 100 or more activities connected with your job.
Different customers will try to solve the job to be done differently. You are not trying to find one optimal way of solving the job at this stage in your process; you want to map out every possible way your customers are trying to solve it so you deeply understand their current approach.
Step 2: Discovering through Interviews
Jobs are not made up: they are discovered. Businesses don’t seek friction, they use innovation processes to address it. We need to learn how this happens.
Qualitative interviews are a cornerstone of Jobs to be Done Theory, and these interviews should be done by your own team. They should be firsthand. This is a great opportunity to leverage a company’s undiscovered voices into a deeper understanding of the organization’s practices.
Initial interviews: Validating the main steps of the job
In the first few interviews, we refine the Job Statement and improve the initial Job Map. The Job Map is best laid out on a wall with Post-it notes so we can easily interrogate it step-by-step.
After a few interviews (on average six, in our experience) and shuffling around the individual steps, the Job Map should stabilize.
Be sure to draw interviewees from all levels of a company’s structure. You may be surprised to find that insightful and dynamic thinking is not limited to the folks with the big offices!
Later interviews: Understanding the Customer’s Criteria
The focus of the subsequent interviews shifts to understanding workers’ mindsets and motivations and collecting the criteria used to assess if a job is well done or not. By thinking about all possible criteria used for evaluation completion, we can best understand all the customer’s needs.
There are three main types of criteria to look out for:
- Functional criteria “Functional Jobs”: Needing more or less of something, e.g., faster, simpler, cheaper, etc.
- Emotional criteria “Emotional Jobs”: Fulfilling needs like reduced stress, increased safety, comfort, personal mastery or accomplishment
- Social criteria “Social Jobs”: Like increased trust, openness, willingness to participate or connection
Everyone will have their own criteria for each step in the Job Map. So, as we go through each step in an interview, we collect the Customer Criteria, with the last interviews increasingly shifting to ensuring completeness and validating accuracy.
Qualitative interviews are a learning journey. We make sure to use the data we uncover to continuously update our questions in order to reflect what we know. We are open to new market insights that could inspire new innovation processes. If we assume we already know the most important questions to ask customers, it exposes our work to a lot of bias and risk.
The UNITE jobs to be done Customer Criteria Template
Step 3: Validate with Data
Having identified the most important Customer Criteria, we now want to quantify these and identify our biggest growth opportunities. In this step, we will undertake a large quantitative survey covering our final 50–150 Customer Criteria. For each criterion, we will ask our target group two important questions:
- What is the importance of this criterion to you, on a scale from 1–5?
- To what degree are you currently satisfied with the options you have to satisfy it, on a scale from 1-5?
The more people we can survey, the more accurate the data will be. Considering how important these insights will be, the investment in the effort here will be rewarded.
Step 4: Identify the Big Opportunities
We will now visualize the results from the survey to make the insights immediately accessible and actionable to the team. The Job Journey Navigator from Vendbridge is one such example of visualization. In it, every Customer Criteria is mapped like a journey, aligned to the Job Map, helping the team easily see where the biggest opportunities lie. This helps support prioritization when we begin to imagine solutions and create products.
Step 5: Spin Towards Solutions
Now it is time to start connecting jobs to be done with solutions we can provide.
Based on the prioritized opportunities we uncovered using the Job Journey Navigator, we have a selection of needs to reduce to the few that are best addressed with major investments. In this step, we articulate a promise for every one of the opportunities and compare them to each other in order to find which ones best match our capabilities and the innovation journey we can facilitate.
To help visualize our proposed solutions, we use the UNITE Customer Promise Canvas.
The UNITE Customer Promise Canvas
The canvas includes four elements:
Customers Unmet needs
Start here with your prioritized opportunities from the Job Journey Navigator!
Articulate a high-level promise that responds to the unmet customer need. This promise will later be the basis for a Value Proposition.
The proof asks you for further verification: Why is your promise to the customer the right solution for their job?
We cannot invent promises out of thin air; we have to relate them to our organization and its capabilities. Can we realistically build this? Can we leverage at least some of our core and differentiating capabilities?
You can even turn the UNITE Customer Promise Canvas into a fun competition in your team. Ask two or more people to collaborate on competing promises for the same unmet need, and use the scoring mechanism on the canvas to see who can come up with the simplest way to offer the best promise for the biggest need.
The UNITE Customer Promise Canvas is a way for the team to explore at an initial level how needs can be mapped to promises and which of these are the best fit for your business.
It will help you filter out some of the opportunities and make you even more confident and enthusiastic about the promises you now have left.
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 Segmentation – Jobs to be Done 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 intelligence – Jobs to be Done can provide a different perspective on the market and the competitive landscape.
- Innovation – Jobs to be Done 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 approach naturally outperforms most ideation/luck-based methods.
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.
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 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.
For practical application, you can also use a Jobs to be Done Canvas, which works similarly to other canvases from design thinking. To have a sufficient basic understanding of a Business Model, we recommend reading our articles on Innovation Process and Innovation Strategy in Business as well as creativity and innovation.
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 give corporate as well as private start-up innovations 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 are successful,
most innovations remain small and are 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.
What Matters In The Jobs To Be Done 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 Jobs to be Done 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.
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 with all its processes is 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Jobs to be Done Framework?
Approaching decisions regarding business innovation from the viewpoint of challenges experienced by your customers. This approach helps eliminate bias and data noise to reduce uncertainty and guesswork.
As we Discussed The Jobs to be Done Framework includes the following pieces:
- The Job Statement
- The Job Map
- Opportunity Identification
- Solution Development
- Customer Promise Canvas
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.