The Jobs to be Done Concept

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For a comprehensive discussion of JTBD,  see the post—What is Jobs To Be Done. Fundamental concepts are covered with links to other posts that take a deeper dive into each of those concepts.

Have you ever wondered why we make the choices we do to purchase and use certain products and services? What really drives these choices? This is an important question if you’re creating and selling a product or service that people and organizations will want to buy and use. We introduce here a concept called Jobs to be Done (aka: JTBD and Jobs to be Done Theory) which will help explain these choices.

What is Jobs to be Done Theory?

When people and organizations have “jobs” they need to get done, they set out to “hire” something or someone to do the job as effectively, easily, and inexpensively as possible. They know the specific results or success outcomes they’re looking to attain or achieve when the job is done.

With these outcomes in mind, they seek out solutions and ultimately choose the one that will best achieve these outcomes for the money and effort expended. This chosen solution enables customers to execute all the steps (i.e., process) required to complete the job. And if all goes as well, they achieve their success outcomes when the job is completed.

For instance, say the job is to navigate a geographic area. Google maps if often hired to get this job done. Say the job is to travel a long distance. Many people hire an airline service for this job. The job could be to diagnose and treat a medical condition. Urgent care is one solution for this job. A job could be to entertain the family while at home. Many hire Netflix to get this job done. The job could be to learn about a particular subject. Websites are hired all the time for this job.

Some jobs are small such as pass the time while in traffic. A mobile phone is the preferred solution for many. Some jobs are big such as start a new career. An advanced degree is often hired to help get this job done. Some jobs surface unexpectedly like fix a broken-down car stranded on the road. The AAA service is a popular solution for this particular job.

Some jobs are recurring and frequent such as shop for food. A farmer’s market is one of many solutions for this job. Some jobs are done once in a while such as renew a passport. If you need it fast, a passport renewal service might be the best solution for this job. Still other jobs are done only once like get a college degree. A public university is most often hired to get this job done.

As you can see, there are lots of jobs that we’re trying to get done and jobs we’ll need get done in the future that we’re not even aware of yet. But what is the ultimate purpose of all these jobs? Jobs are a means to make progress in some way. But what exactly is meant by progress? And to what end? These are the questions that we now proceed to answer.

JTBD has been developing since the 1950s and is at the cross section of marketing, economics, strategy and entrepreneurship. Noteworthy contributors include Chester Wasson, Theodore Levitt, Peter Drucker, Bob Moesta, Anthony Ulwick, Lance Bettencourt, and Clayton Christenson. Jobs to be Done Theory was popularized by Christenson’s seminal work on disruptive innovation circa 1999.

The central focus of Jobs to be Done Theory is on the circumstances that give rise to the jobs people and organizations want to get done and the struggle to get these jobs done in the context of those circumstances. Removing these struggles become their priorities which reflects that people and organizations are continually seeking to make progress in their lives and businesses.

Simply put, the Jobs to be Done Theory is about understanding the struggle of people and organizations to achieve progress in a particular set of circumstances. When this is known, it becomes possible to explain and therefore predict what products and services they prefer now, and in the future, to get important jobs done.

But from a Jobs to be Done Theory perspective, people and organizations don’t buy and use products and services, per se. Rather, they “pull” solutions into their lives and businesses to make progress. But progress towards what? The fact is that we all execute jobs as a means to attain or achieve desired goals and aspirations. This means that any job involves a series of steps that must be successfully accomplished to reach those goals (aka: job process). Thus, it can be said that a job is a “process to make progress” (Christensen).

From a JTBD perspective, these desired goals and aspirations are called the Customer’s Success Outcomes. These outcomes define the results that customers expect to attain and/or achieve when a job is successfully executed.

A success outcome can be a result(s) that customers want to happen. When trying to buy a new home, individuals want to buy a house for a preferred price, located in a preferred neighborhood, with specific features, and so on.

Success in getting a job done can also be defined as the avoidance of an undesired result(s). For instance, security software is often hired to prevent a virus from attacking a personal computer. In this case, the job is successful as long as the computer is not infected with a virus.

To recap, the Customer’s Success Outcomes are the expected results to be obtained, achieved or prevented after a job is successfully completed.

In short, JTBD is a circumstance-based lens of customer behavior. As such, a job can only be understood in the context in which it occurs. The Jobs to be Done Theory is useful to innovators because it predicts why customers choose certain solutions over competing alternatives.

That’s because customer behavior is ultimately rooted in job circumstance. As such, the Jobs to be Done methodology uses the customer job as the primary unit of analysis for innovation work rather than product features, customer characteristics, trends, competitor product enhancements and even new technology.

These categories are not bad or wrong, but they are disassociated from the jobs that customers are trying to get done which makes them insufficient to predict customer choice. Entrepreneurial efforts that primarily rely on such categories divorced from job context will likely be hit or miss.

Jobs to be Done Theory, on the other hand, reveals the causal mechanism that drives consumer behavior. For this reason, JTBD can be used to reliably predict what customers value today and well into the future. This is why JTBD offers much higher precision for innovation work.

So, as you can now see, when people and businesses become aware of needing to get jobs done, they set out to hire solutions to get those jobs as effectively, easily, and inexpensively as possible to achieve wanted success outcomes. Companies and entrepreneurs offering products and services that help customers get these jobs better than competing solutions are those that ultimately succeed. This is the power of Jobs to be Done Theory.

Looking for a Jobs to be Done workshop? Our Jobs to be Done online course features animated videos, an integrated concepts builder app, lots of Jobs to be Done examples, interactive quizzes and more. Get Jobs to be Done training at your own pace. Learn more

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