Also called: Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory
See also: Assumption Mapping, Core Tenets of Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD), Job Story (JTBD)
Relevant metrics: Customer Satisfaction, Product Adoption, Task Completion Rate, Time to Completion, and Cost Savings
What is the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework (JTBD)?
The Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) Framework is a customer-centric approach to product management and user experience design. It is based on the idea that customers “hire” products to do a job for them. This job can be anything from solving a problem to achieving a goal. The JTBD Framework helps product managers and user experience designers to better understand the customer’s needs and motivations, and to design products that meet those needs.
People buy products and services to get a “job” done.
The framework help understand the customer’s needs and motivations, and to design products that meet those needs. This job can be anything from solving a problem to achieving a goal. By understanding the customer’s needs and motivations, product designers can design products that meet those needs.
Where did Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework (JTBD) come from?
The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework (JTBD) was first introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Solution. The framework is based on the idea that customers hire products to do a job for them.
Christensen’s research led him to the idea that people “hire” products or services to accomplish a job or task in their lives. This idea formed the basis of the JTBD framework, which proposes that understanding the job a customer is trying to do is more important than understanding their demographic or psychographic characteristics.
The JTBD framework has since been developed and refined by Christensen and other researchers and practitioners, and has become a widely-used approach to innovation and product development. The framework has been applied across a range of industries and contexts, from consumer goods to healthcare to education, and has helped companies create products and services that better meet the needs of their customers.
Why is Jobs-to-be-Done important?
Aligning teams, winning products, and effective communication
Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) helps align teams by focusing on customer needs rather than the features of a product. By understanding what job a customer is trying to get done, teams can create products that are tailored to those needs, resulting in a better user experience and higher customer satisfaction. JTBD also encourages effective communication between teams by providing a shared language and framework to discuss customer needs and product development. This alignment and communication can lead to winning products that meet the needs of customers in a way that competitors do not.
Why ‘to be’ matters in Jobs-to-be-Done theory
The ‘to be’ in JTBD theory is important because it shifts the focus from what a customer is currently using to what they want to accomplish. By understanding the job a customer wants to get done, rather than just what they are currently using, teams can create products that fulfill that need better than existing solutions. This allows for more innovation and differentiation in the market.
Understanding the ‘Done’ part of Jobs-to-be-Done theory
The ‘Done’ part of JTBD theory is important because it helps teams understand the outcome that customers are trying to achieve. By understanding the ultimate goal, teams can create products that better satisfy that need. For example, a customer may hire a product to get a task done quickly, but the ultimate goal may be to free up time to spend with family. Understanding this ultimate goal can lead to more effective product development and marketing.
Using Jobs-to-be-Done theory for customer-focused innovation
JTBD theory is a customer-focused approach to innovation that focuses on understanding the needs of the customer. By understanding the job that customers are trying to get done, teams can create products that meet those needs in a way that competitors do not. JTBD encourages teams to think about the customer’s problem holistically and find ways to innovate that go beyond just improving existing solutions.
One of the key benefits of JTBD theory is that it helps teams identify unmet needs in the market. By understanding the job that customers are trying to get done, teams can identify areas where current solutions fall short or are inadequate. This provides an opportunity for innovation and differentiation in the market.
Using Jobs-to-be-Done theory for product development
JTBD theory is also useful for product development because it encourages teams to focus on the customer’s needs rather than the features of a product. By understanding the job that customers are trying to get done, teams can create products that are tailored to those needs, resulting in a better user experience and higher customer satisfaction. JTBD also encourages iteration and testing to ensure that the product meets the customer’s needs.
JTBD theory is a constant in the midst of changing technology and evolving values because it focuses on the customer’s needs rather than the technology or cultural trends. By understanding the job that customers are trying to get done, teams can create products that meet those needs regardless of the technology or cultural context. This allows for more enduring solutions that stand the test of time.
JTBD theory also plays a crucial role in innovation because it encourages teams to think beyond the technology or cultural trends of the moment. By understanding the job that customers are trying to get done, teams can create solutions that go beyond what currently exists and
Understanding the four forces of JTBD
The “Four Forces” framework is a key component of the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) methodology. The four forces are:
- Push of the current (the situation). The customer is pushed to change by the situation they find themselves in, such as a problem or unmet need.
- Pull of the new (solution). The customer is pulled towards a new solution that promises to help them get the job done more effectively or efficiently.
- Anxiety of the new (solution). The customer experiences anxiety about the new solution, such as the learning curve or potential risks associated with adopting the new solution.
- Habits of the old solution. The attachment to the Current and Inertia in moving away. The customer is comfortable with their current solution and may be resistant to change due to the effort required to learn and adopt a new solution.
The components of the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework (JTBD)
At its core, the framework focuses on understanding the “jobs” that customers are trying to accomplish, and designing products and services that better meet their needs. Here are the main components of the JTBD framework:
- Job. A job is the goal that a customer is trying to achieve or the problem they are trying to solve. For example, a customer who is buying a drill may not be looking for a drill specifically, but rather the ability to create a hole in a surface. The job, in this case, is to make a hole.
- Job context. The job context refers to the specific situation or circumstances in which the customer is trying to accomplish the job. This includes factors such as location, time, and the tools or resources available.
- Job step. A job step is a specific action that a customer takes to accomplish a job. For example, a job step for making a hole might be to drill the initial hole, followed by enlarging the hole to the desired size.
- Job outcome. The job outcome is the result that the customer is seeking by accomplishing the job. For example, the job outcome for making a hole might be to hang a picture or install a shelf.
- Customer needs. Understanding the customer’s needs is a key component of the JTBD framework. This includes both functional and emotional needs that the customer may have in relation to the job they are trying to accomplish.
- Competing solutions. Competing solutions refer to the products or services that customers are currently using or considering using to accomplish the job. Understanding these solutions is important for identifying opportunities for innovation and improvement.
Jobs are functional — with emotional and social components.
The nine tenets of JTBD Theory
The nine tenets of JTBD Theory are a set of guiding principles that provide a framework for understanding customers’ Jobs to be Done. These tenets were developed by Clayton Christensen, the father of JTBD theory, and have been refined and expanded upon by other thought leaders in the field.
- People don’t want products, they want to make progress. This tenet emphasizes that customers are not buying products, but are instead buying solutions to their problems or ways to make progress in their lives.
- A Job has a functional and emotional dimension. Jobs to be Done have both functional and emotional dimensions. Customers often make purchasing decisions based on how a product or service makes them feel, in addition to its functional capabilities.
- Jobs are stable over time and across contexts. Jobs to be Done are not fleeting desires or needs, but rather stable and enduring goals that persist over time and across different contexts.
- A Job-to-be-Done is solution agnostic. A customer’s problem or need, which is often referred to as a Job-to-be-Done, is independent of any particular product or solution. In other words, customers don’t actually want a particular product or service; rather, they want a solution to a problem or need that they have.
- Success comes from making the job the unit of analysis rather than the product or the customer. In other words, the focus should be on understanding the underlying job that the customer is trying to get done, rather than on the product or service that they are currently using. Rather than focusing on the product and its features, benefits, and price, the focus is on understanding the customer’s desired outcomes or progress, and the problems or constraints they face in achieving those outcomes. This allows companies to identify unmet needs and opportunities for innovation.
- A deep understanding of the customer’s job makes marketing more effective and innovation more predictable is at the core of JTBD theory. This tenet emphasizes that successful marketing and innovation depend on understanding the customer’s underlying needs and motivations, rather than simply focusing on the product or service being offered.
- People are not looking for products or services, for ways to make progress in their lives. This progress is achieved by getting a job done better and/or more cheaply. A job in this context refers to a task that someone is trying to complete, a problem they are trying to solve, or a need they are trying to fulfill.
- People seek out products and services that enable them to get the entire job done on a single platform. In other words, they want a solution that offers a complete solution to their problem or task, rather than having to use multiple products or services to accomplish the same job. This tenet highlights the importance of understanding the broader context of the customer’s job and the various steps involved in completing it. By identifying all of the different tasks and activities that the customer needs to accomplish, product and service providers can design solutions that meet all of their needs in one place.
- Innovation becomes predictable when “needs” are defined as the metrics customers use to measure success when getting the job done. In other words, instead of focusing on what the customer wants in a product or service, it’s more effective to understand the outcome they desire when trying to accomplish a specific job. By allowing companies to focus on the outcomes that customers are seeking, rather than blindly following trends or guessing what features will be popular, they can create solutions that better meet customer needs and lead to greater customer satisfaction.
The artefacts and activities of the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework (JTBD)
The JTBD Framework is based on four key principles:
- Understand the customer’s job. Companies need to understand the job that customers are trying to get done. This includes understanding the customer’s goals, motivations, and context.
- Identify the customer’s desired outcomes. Companies need to identify the desired outcomes that customers are looking for when they hire a product or service.
- Understand the customer’s current solutions. Companies need to understand the current solutions that customers are using to get the job done. This includes understanding the customer’s current process, tools, and resources.
- Design solutions to meet the customer’s needs. Companies need to design solutions that meet the customer’s needs and desired outcomes. This includes understanding the customer’s preferences and designing solutions that are easy to use and understand.
Understanding “Jobs” of the JTBD framework
Job statements and job stories are some of the key artifact that can be used to apply the JTBD framework.
- Job statement. A job statement is a concise, customer-focused description of the job that a customer is trying to accomplish. It is typically written in the format “I want to (job) so that (outcome).” Job statements help to focus product development efforts on the most important customer needs and outcomes. They are usually brief and to-the-point, and are often used as a starting point for developing more detailed artifacts, such as job maps and persona profiles.
- Job stories. A job story, on the other hand, is a more detailed narrative that captures the context and motivation behind a customer’s job-to-be-done. It typically takes the form of a simple sentence that describes the job, the motivation behind it, and the expected outcome. Job stories help to provide a more detailed and nuanced understanding of customer needs and motivations, and can be used to inform product development efforts at a more granular level.
A job statement is a concise summary of the customer’s job-to-be-done, while a job story provides a more detailed narrative that captures the context and motivation behind the job. Both tools are useful in the JTBD framework and can be used in combination to gain a more comprehensive understanding of customer needs and develop more effective solutions.
To identify and craft effective job statements and job stories, it’s crucial to keep in mind the following points:
Understanding the context of the job is crucial to truly understand a customer’s Job to be Done. This context includes the situation, the social and emotional factors, and the functional requirements of the job.
Jobs arise when customers are trying to make progress towards something that is important to them, and that they currently cannot achieve or struggle to achieve. To identify these important unmet needs, it’s important to listen to customers and observe their behaviors.
Jobs are multifaceted, and involve a mix of functional, social, and emotional factors. This means that job statements and stories need to account for these different aspects and capture the full complexity of the job.
Demographic characteristics such as age, gender, or income are not sufficient to determine a customer’s Job to be Done. Instead, it’s important to understand their unique context and goals.
Job statements require interpretation and analysis to understand the underlying context and goals of the customer. They cannot be taken at face value, and may require further investigation and iteration to fully capture the customer’s needs.
How the JTBD framework is customer-centric
The JTBD framework focuses on understanding the customer’s needs, motivations, and desired outcomes, rather than just their demographic characteristics or buying behaviors. This helps companies to identify unmet needs and opportunities for innovation, and to design solutions that better meet those needs. The JTBD framework provides a customer-centric approach to product development that helps companies to better understand and meet the needs of their customers.
Center of the JTBD framework is understanding customers and the job that they are trying to get done. Here are some of the tools and activities that can help accomplish that.
Customer interviews are a key tool for understanding the jobs that customers are trying to accomplish and their specific needs and pain points. A JTBD interview guide is a set of questions designed to elicit information about the jobs that customers are trying to accomplish, the outcomes they are seeking, and the constraints they face. JTBD interviews can help to uncover unmet customer needs and identify opportunities for innovation.
- Jobs-to-be-Done interview guide. A JTBD interview guide is a set of questions designed to elicit information about the jobs that customers are trying to accomplish, the outcomes they are seeking, and the constraints they face. JTBD interviews can help to uncover unmet customer needs and identify opportunities for innovation.
- Persona profiles. Persona profiles are fictional representations of different customer segments, based on their needs, behaviors, and motivations. Persona profiles help to humanize customer needs and provide a framework for designing products and services that better meet those needs.
- Contextual Inquiry. JTBD interviews are conducted as contextual inquiries, which means that they take place in the customer’s real-world environment and focus on the specific job the customer is trying to accomplish. This approach helps to uncover the customer’s needs, motivations, and desired outcomes in a more meaningful way.
Mapping tools what work welll with the JTBD framework
Several maps and canvases can help provide a shared understandinng an overview of customer problems, opportunties and fitting solutions.
- Job map. A job map is a visual representation of the steps that a customer takes to accomplish a job, along with the outcomes they are seeking at each step. Job maps can be used to identify pain points, opportunities for improvement, and unmet customer needs.
- Opportunity matrix. An opportunity matrix is a tool for identifying opportunities for innovation and improvement based on the level of customer need and the level of competition in a particular area. By identifying areas of high customer need and low competition, companies can focus their innovation efforts on areas with the greatest potential for success.
- Customer journey map. A customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps that a customer takes to accomplish a job, along with the emotions, pain points, and touchpoints they experience along the way. Customer journey maps can help to identify opportunities for improvement and better understand the customer experience.
- Value proposition canvas. A value proposition canvas is a tool for designing and testing value propositions, which are statements that communicate the unique value that a product or service provides to customers. The canvas helps to identify customer needs, pain points, and desired outcomes, and to develop solutions that better meet those needs.
- Empathy Map. An empathy map is a tool used to capture the customer’s emotions, needs, and behaviors related to a specific job. It helps to create a more comprehensive understanding of the customer’s experience and can be used to identify unmet needs or pain points.
- Service Blueprint. A service blueprint is a tool that maps out the end-to-end customer experience, including all the people, processes, and systems involved in delivering a service. It helps to identify areas where the service can be improved, and ensures that all aspects of the service are aligned to meet the customer’s needs.
Survey and analytics
Surveys and analytics tools can provide valuable data that can be used to support the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework. Here are some examples:
- Customer Satisfaction Surveys. These surveys can provide insights into the customer’s satisfaction with a product or service. This information can be used to identify areas where improvements can be made to better meet the customer’s needs.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys. NPS surveys are used to measure the likelihood of a customer to recommend a product or service to others. This can help to identify areas where the product or service is performing well and where improvements are needed.
- Customer Effort Score (CES) Surveys. CES surveys measure the ease of use of a product or service. By asking customers how easy it was to complete a job, companies can identify areas where improvements can be made to better meet the customer’s needs.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). CSAT measures customer satisfaction by asking a single question: “How satisfied were you with your experience?” This tool can help companies identify areas where they can improve the customer experience to increase customer satisfaction.
- Post-Transaction Surveys. Post-transaction surveys are sent to customers after they have completed a purchase or transaction. These surveys can help companies understand the customer’s experience and identify areas where they can improve the customer experience to increase loyalty and repeat business.
- User Feedback Surveys. User feedback surveys are sent to customers to gather feedback on a specific product or feature. These surveys can help companies understand how customers are using the product and identify areas where they can improve the product to better meet the customer’s needs.
- Customer Churn Analysis. Customer churn analysis tools such as ChurnZero can help to identify customers who are at risk of leaving a product or service. This information can be used to identify areas where improvements can be made to better meet the customer’s needs and prevent churn.
- Sentiment Analysis. Sentiment analysis tools such as Brandwatch can analyze customer feedback and social media data to determine customer sentiment. This information can help to identify areas where improvements can be made to better meet the customer’s needs.
- User Behavior Tracking. User behavior tracking tools such as Mixpanel or Amplitude can track how customers use a product or service. This can help to identify areas where the product or service can be improved to better meet the customer’s needs.
- Customer Segmentation. Customer segmentation tools such as Qualtrics can group customers based on common characteristics such as demographics, behaviors, or needs. This can help companies to better understand their customers and design products and services that meet their specific needs.
These artifacts and tools can be used in combination to help companies apply the JTBD framework and design products and services that better meet the needs of their customers.
Jobs-To-Be-Done best practices
To further help apply the JTBD framework a series of tools and practices are particularly valuable.
Start with the job, not the solution
Here are some best practices that are particularly valuable when applying the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework:
- Start with customer needs. JTBD is a customer-centric framework, so it’s important to start by understanding the needs and motivations of your customers. This can be done through customer interviews, surveys, and other research methods. By understanding customer needs, you can design products and services that better meet those needs.
- Focus on outcomes, not features. Instead of focusing on specific product features, focus on the outcomes that customers are trying to achieve. This will help you design products and services that better meet customer needs and provide a more compelling solution to their problem.
- Collaborate across functions. The JTBD framework requires input from a variety of functions, including product management, design, engineering, and marketing.
- Test early and often. Frequent testing can help ensure that products are meeting customer needs and can help identify issues early on in the development process.
- Use a variety of research methods. JTBD requires a deep understanding of customer needs, so it’s important to use a variety of research methods, including surveys, interviews, and observational research. This will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of customer needs and behaviors.
- Collaborate across teams. JTBD requires collaboration across teams, including product development, marketing, and customer service. By working together, teams can gain a comprehensive understanding of customer needs and develop solutions that meet those needs.
Challenges with the JTBD Framework
Implementing JTBD in practice requires careful research, a clear understanding of the customer’s “Job,” and the right research methods. By addressing these challenges, companies can harness the full potential of JTBD and develop solutions that truly meet their customers’ needs.
Despite its intuitive appeal, implementing JTBD in practice can be challenging. In this article, we explore some of the common challenges that arise when working with JTBD.
Garbage in, garbage out
The biggest mistake with the JTBD framework is that it is only as good as the research that goes into it. Poor research tools and processes can lead to incorrect assumptions about customer needs and preferences, ultimately resulting in suboptimal solutions. It is critical to ensure that the research is rigorous, comprehensive, and based on reliable data sources.
For example, a multi-billion UK corporation, despite its size and resources, failed to implement JTBD successfully because the research was incorrect. They made assumptions based on faulty data, which led them in the wrong direction early on, resulting in lost time, money, and resources. To avoid such mistakes, companies must invest in robust research methods and experienced user experience researchers to plan and conduct the research.
Understanding the customer’s “Job”
One of the most significant challenges in implementing JTBD is understanding the customer’s “Job.” While the concept of a “Job” is intuitive in an academic setting, it can be confusing in the real world. People have precise definitions of “Job” in their heads, such as their role and responsibilities at work, and these preconceptions can make it challenging to adopt an entirely new understanding and use of the word.
For example, a customer’s “Job” is not the same as the company’s “Job.” In the fictional scenario above, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Company assumed that the customer’s “Job” was to buy cheap, all-natural cookies from a store. However, the customer’s “Job” was to be healthy, manage money, save time, and feel good about what they eat. Understanding the true “Job” requires careful research and analysis of customer needs, motivations, and behaviors.
Finding the right research methods
Another challenge in implementing JTBD is finding the right research methods. JTBD is all about customer interviews, and while one-on-one interviews can provide valuable insights, they are limited in uncovering context. JTBD is all about context, and contextual/ethnographic research methods have shown the best results in uncovering the customer’s true “Job.”
For example, contextual research methods involve observing and analyzing customer behavior in their natural environment, such as their home or workplace. This approach can reveal insights into customer needs, behaviors, and motivations that may not emerge from a one-on-one interview. By understanding the context in which the customer’s “Job” takes place, companies can develop more effective solutions that meet their customers’ needs and expectations.
Customers might be looking for a quick and affordable meal, a way to satisfy their hunger, or a convenient option for eating on-the-go. Understanding these “jobs” can help fast-food restaurants design menus and services that better meet their customers’ needs.
Patients might be seeking relief from pain, a way to improve their quality of life, or a way to regain their independence. Understanding these underlying “jobs” can help providers design treatments and services that address patients’ holistic needs, rather than just their medical condition.
Customers might be looking for a way to save time, reduce stress, or save money. Understanding these “jobs” can help transportation companies design services that better meet their customers’ needs, such as offering faster or more reliable routes, or providing more affordable options.
Fast-food restaurant chain
In a classic example from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, a fast-food restaurant chain wanted to improve sales of its milkshakes. After studying the customers who bought milkshakes, the company found that most were buying them in the morning and using them as a breakfast replacement on long commutes. Armed with this knowledge, the company improved the milkshake recipe to make it thicker and longer-lasting, making it a more satisfying breakfast replacement.
Airbnb used the JTBD framework to understand why people choose to travel and stay in short-term rentals. They found that customers were often looking for unique and personalized experiences, rather than just a place to sleep. Armed with this knowledge, Airbnb redesigned their website to emphasize the unique and personalized aspects of their listings and offered tools to help hosts customize their listings.
Apple used the JTBD framework to understand why people listen to music and what jobs they are trying to accomplish while listening. They found that many people use music to fill the downtime during activities like exercising or commuting. Armed with this knowledge, Apple designed the iPod to be portable and easy to use, allowing people to easily access and listen to their music while on-the-go.
Toyota used the JTBD framework to understand why families buy minivans. They found that families were looking for a vehicle that could comfortably transport their children and their belongings, while also being easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces. Armed with this knowledge, Toyota designed the Sienna minivan with features like sliding doors and foldable seats, making it easier to load and transport large items.
- What is the customer's current job that needs to be done?
- What are the customer's desired outcomes from the job?
- What are the customer's current pain points in completing the job?
- What are the customer's current strategies for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current resources for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current motivations for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current constraints for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current expectations for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current preferences for completing the job?
- What are the customer's current alternatives for completing the job?
You might also be interested in reading up on:
- Alan Klement @AlanKlement
- Anthony Ulwick @AnthonyUlwick
- Bob Moesta @bmoesta
- Chris Spiek @ChrisSpiek
- Jim Kalbach @jimkalbach
- The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen and Michael E. Raynor (2003)
- The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (1997)
- Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen (2016)
- Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice by Anthony W. Ulwick (2016)
- Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams by Jim Kalbach (2017)
- Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice by Stephen Wunker (2018)
- The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn if Your Business is a Good Idea When Everyone is Lying to You by Chris Spiek, Bob Moesta, and Ervin Fowlkes (2019)
- Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for CustomerCentric Innovation by Anthony Ulwick (2020)
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