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This post discusses a specific aspect of Jobs to be Done. If you haven’t already done so, we suggest starting with the post—What is Jobs To Be Done. This will give you a broad overview of JTBD concepts with links to other posts that take a deeper dive into those concepts.

Up to this point, the focus has been on executing a single job to make progress. Because the job examples going forward get more complex, let’s review some job basics. Recall that “job execution” means taking the necessary action to satisfy wanted success outcomes. Therefore, any job must meet two criteria to qualify as a job and not something else. First, a job is executable, but this doesn’t mean that it’s executed well. Second, the execution of any job has a starting point and an end point, which defines a single job execution cycle.

Now, consider a job that many people are trying to get done over and over again – “perform yard work.” A diverse set of functional success outcomes is typically expected when this job is done such as, the grass is neatly cut, leaves are removed, plants are neatly trimmed, weeds are eliminated, and plants are watered, to mention a few.

However, this diverse set of outcomes can only be generated by executing multiple jobs, namely “cut the grass,” and “remove unwanted leaves,” and “trim plants,” and “eliminate weeds,” and “water plants,” and so on. What makes these jobs executable is that they can be broken down into a number of discrete job steps as described by the Jobs-to-be-Done framework. Solutions are then hired to perform all the job activities required to accomplish those job steps with the aim of satisfying wanted success outcomes. Jobs that can be executed in this manner are called prime jobs.

Recall that for any prime job, job activities and job logic are tightly threaded. Because of this, job activities have the capability to generate specific success outcomes depending on the nature of the solution used. For instance, using a lawnmower solution to execute the prime job “cut the grass” can generate the functional success outcome, “The grass is neatly cut.” However, executing this same job cannot generate the success outcome “Trees and plants are trimmed” because the job activities are not capable of producing that result, regardless of the solution used.  So, any prime job is limited in terms of what success outcomes it’s capable of generating.

Now, unlike a prime job, “Perform yard work” can’t be broken down into a number of discrete job steps and activities because progress is defined as a diverse set of success outcomes. This job is at a higher-level of abstraction, which means that no single prime job is capable of generating all the outcomes expected when the job is done. For this reason, “perform yard work” is called a high-level job and it gets done by executing a number of prime jobs that are collectively capable of generating a diverse set of success outcomes. In this context, each of these prime jobs has a relationship to the high-level job to which it’s bound, which is why these are called related jobs.

For example, we would say that the prime job “cut the grass” is related to the high-level job “perform yard work.” And as we’ll discuss shortly, a high-level job can also be a means for getting another high-level job done. Simply put, both prime jobs and high-level jobs can be related jobs.

The job “Perform yard work” is a relatively simple high-level job because it requires the execution of a handful of related prime jobs. Now, let’s consider a more complex high-level job like, “Sell a house,” which meets the basic job criteria because it can get done by executing a number of related jobs. As such, the job “Sell a house” has a start and an end, whether the house sells or not. Now, getting this high-level job done will involve executing a combination of related prime jobs and related high-level jobs.

For instance, a seller of a house may want to “Inspect a house,” a prime job often executed by a home inspection service. A seller may want to “Fix-up a house,” a high-level job that involves a number of related prime jobs and high-level jobs. One job related to “Fix-up a house” might be, “Paint a House,” a high-level job that’s often executed by professional painters.

Another related job might be “Replace a water heater,” a high-level job that requires executing at least two prime jobs, namely “Purchase a water heater” and “Install a water heater.”

Another related job might be “Replace an Oven,” a high-level job that requires the execution of at least two prime jobs, namely, “Purchase an Oven” and “Install an Oven.”

Another related job might be “Replace carpet,” a high-level job that involves the execution of at least two prime jobs, namely, “Purchase carpet” and “Install carpet.” Yet another related job might be “Replace broken bricks in a fireplace.”

Additionally, a seller of a house may also want to “Assess the market value of a house” and “Stage a house” and “List a property for sale” and “Show a house to potential buyers” and “Respond to buyer offers” and “Close on an accepted offer.” A realtor is often hired to get these related jobs done.

Now, the all the jobs associated with the high-level job, “Sell a house” are tiered at different levels. That is, the jobs “Inspect a house,” “Fix-up a house,” “Assess the market value of a house,” “Stage a house,” “List a property for sale,” “Show a house to potential buyers,” “Respond to buyer offers,” and “Close on an accepted offer” are all related to the high-level job “Sell a house.”

The jobs “Paint a house,” “Replace a water heater,” “Replace an oven,” “Replace carpet,” and “Replace broken bricks” are all related to the high-level job “Fix-up a house.”  The prime jobs “Purchase a water heater” and “Install a water heater” are related to the high-level job “Replace a water heater.” For this reason, we wouldn’t say that the job “Install a water heater” is related to the job “Sell a house” because it’s not related at that tier.

Now, in most cases, the progress wanted when a high-level job is done can be defined as a single functional outcome. For example, the functional outcome wanted for the job, “Perform yard work” can be defined as, “The yard is beautiful” or “The yard looks well maintained.” Just like prime jobs, emotional and social success outcomes are possible for a high-level job. For example, a beautiful or well-maintain yard makes it possible to satisfy emotional and social needs such as, “I feel like a responsible homeowner” and “Others perceive me as a responsible member of the neighborhood.”

That said, recall that emotional and social success outcomes can only be satisfied to the extent that functional success outcomes are satisfied. So, for the job “perform yard work,” all the functional success outcomes must first be generated by related jobs before emotional and social success outcomes are possible for the high-level job.

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