Find Opportunities with Jobs To Be Done

The famous Harvard professor Theodore Levitt once said: “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”

The drill is a means to an end; the goal is making a hole. (Some have even gone further and contend that the goal is to hang a picture).

This perspective shifts focus from the product to the problem people are seeking to solve, called jobs to be done (JTBDs). Clayton Christensen outlined a theory of JTBD in his landmark book The Innovator’s Solution, the follow-up book to his revolutionary work The Innovator’s Dilemma.

The concept is straightforward: people “hire” products and services to get jobs done. For instance, you might hire a new suite to make you look good at a job interview. Or, someone can hire a chocolate bar to relieve daily stress.

For each job, there are three aspects or dimensions to consider:

  • Functional job: the practical task at hand to meet a person’s requirements
  • Emotional job: the feelings a person desires while completing a job
  • Social job: how a person believes he or she will be perceived socially while using the solution

ADDRESS UNMET NEEDS

For service providers, JTBD offer important insight: find those jobs that people can’t get done adequately, and address them directly.

Identifying these unmet needs can be done by looking at two factors for each job:

  • The level of importance associated with getting the job done
  • The level of satisfaction associated with getting the job done

Graphed on a chart, the jobs that are highly important but least satisfied should be targeted first.

jtbd

Solutions that solve for these problems have a higher chance of being adopted and consequently a higher chance of succeeding.

There is no guarantee, of course, but the JTBD framework can provide teams focus and a rationale for making decisions.

LEARN MORE

There are lots of resources on the web about JTBD. Below are some of my favorite. In particular, see Tony Ulwick’s work on identifying opportunities, along with several case studies. The good folks at Intercom also have many practical examples of using JTBD in their offering development.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Success at MURAL

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Lesenswert: Juni 2016 | produktbezogen.de

  2. CH

    Hi there – I just watched your webinar with UserTesting about mapping experiences. While I was watching, you talked about the diagrams illustrating the individual/interaction/organization based on personas. However, much of what I’ve read or heard about the JTBD framework dismisses personas.

    I came to your site looking to see if you touched on this topic and found this post. Still wondering though, how might the 2 methodologies work together.

    Also, the examples you provided in your webinar seem to focus on larger projects or projects with more disruptive change. Can this be applied to more incremental changes on a product?

    • Jim Kalbach

      Hi. Thanks for commenting.

      I’m not sure JTBD completely dismisses personas. It’s just a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the cognitive and psychological, JTBD focuses on behavioral aspects. But there is still a person who is the actor. In fact, Strategyn, a leading consultancy with JTBD, talks about JTBD-based personas. I think it’s a rethinking of what personas represent.

      JTBD and experience mapping can definitely be used for more incremental changes. In fact, very often outcomes are incremental in terms of the solutions a team comes up with.

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