Winning solutions help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply.

As the pioneers of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and Outcome-Driven Innovation, we are uniquely qualified to help your company significantly improve its innovation success rate. We offer the experience, tools, training, mentoring, and support you will need to put jobs-to-be-done theory into practice.

Download our Jobs-To-Be-Done PDF Watch our Jobs-to-be-Done videos

Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory

A framework for understanding customer needs

People buy products to get a “job” done. Why does this matter? Jobs-to-be-Done Theory proposes that in order to understand customer needs in a way that makes innovation predictable, companies should stop focusing on the product or the customer and instead focus on the underlying process or “job” the customer is trying to get done. This theory, which we have pioneered for 25 years, has a game-changing implication:

Jobs Theory provides a framework for categorizing, defining, capturing, and organizing all your customer’s needs. It is embodied in the Jobs-To-Be-Done Needs Framework (see the figure below). 

jobs to be done needs framework

Strategyn has a proven track record in applying this framework. An independent study conducted with Strategyn clients concluded that the use of the model increases a company’s chances for success five-fold. The model intuitively makes sense: if a company knows what target to hit, the chances of hitting it increase dramatically. Welcome to the future of innovation. Learn more about Jobs-to-be-Done Theory.

Advancing Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory

People want to get their jobs done better and/or more cheaply

When using Jobs-to-be-Done Theory to examine product successes and failures, we observe the same phenomenon time and time again: new products and services win in the marketplace if they help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply.

This simple observation led us to the creation of the Jobs-to-be-Done Growth Strategy MatrixTM (below). This model helps to explain when and how to employ a disruptive and sustaining strategy and three other unique growth strategies. It also offers a clear explanation of the process of disruptive innovation. With this framework, companies can understand their past successes and failures and can adopt the right strategy to win in the future.

Download our Jobs-to-be-Done Strategy Matrix white paper

jobs to be done matrix

Jobs-To-Be-Done Books

From the pioneers of jobs-to-be-done theory

“Ulwick’s outcome-driven programs bring discipline and predictability to the often random process of innovation” - Clayton Christensen

In What Customers Want, author Tony Ulwick explains what it takes to put Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into practice.

Released in 2005, this book explains Outcome-Driven Innovation and the proven methods he and Strategyn have used to help the world’s leading companies improve their innovation success rate.

“Ulwick’s outcome-driven programs bring discipline and predictability to the often random process of innovation” - Clayton Christensen
jobs to be done book
“I call him the Deming of Innovation because, more than anyone else, Tony has turned innovation into a science.” – Philip Kotler

In his latest book, JOBS TO BE DONE: Theory to Practice, Tony Ulwick takes the theory and the ODI process to the next level. He explains disruptive innovation and other growth strategies through a Jobs lens and reveals new tools and templates that can be used to guide growth.

He also reveals the 84 steps that comprise the ODI process, providing new insight to prospective practitioners.

“I call him the Deming of Innovation because, more than anyone else, Tony has turned innovation into a science.” – Philip Kotler

Jobs-To-Be-Done Approach

Put jobs-to-be-done theory into practice

Customers use a comprehensive list of metrics to evaluate success when getting a job done. These metrics, a special type of need statement we call desired outcomes, form the basis for our innovation process—hence the name Outcome-Driven Innovation.

By knowing how customers measure value when getting a job done, companies are able to:

  1. use those metrics to discover opportunities for getting a job done better and/or more cheaply,
  2. mitigate risk when defining new product and service offerings, and
  3. align the actions of marketing, sales, planning, development, and R&D with these metrics to systematically create customer value.

In Clayton Christensen’s September, 2016 HBR article he states, “Innovation can be far more predictable—and far more profitable—if you start by identifying the jobs that customers are struggling to get done”. Strategyn has collected data that supports his conclusion. In 2010, Strategyn engaged an independent researcher to study the success rates of traditional innovation methods and its own innovation process, ODI. The results show that while the success rates of traditional innovation processes average 17 percent, the success rate of ODI is 86 percent. This means that 86 percent of the products and services launched by Strategyn clients using ODI were a success.

Download our Track Record Study

This is no accident. Our Jobs-to-be-Done approach to innovation was built from the ground up to mitigate risks that cause traditional innovation methods to fail. We put Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into practice with our 6-step ODI process, (outlined to the right). It is a customer-centric, data-driven approach to innovation that results in predictable growth.

jobs to be done approach

Jobs-To-Be-Done Examples

Defining the customer's job-to-be-done

The first challenge that companies face when applying Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is defining exactly what job it is that the customer is trying to get done. Defining the job-to-be-done correctly is a prerequisite for success. Getting it wrong is a big problem, and getting it right is not that easy. Defining the job too narrowly will limit the discovery of growth opportunities. Defining the job too broadly will result in non-actionable insights.

From our experience, most products only get part of a job done. The goal is to discover the entire job the customer is trying to accomplish. This is why it is incorrect to ask a customer, “for what job did you hire my product?”, as this will not reveal the entire job. Asking this question is a common mistake amongst inexperienced practitioners. To avoid defining the job too narrowly, work directly with customers to understand not only why they buy your product, but how your product fits into what they are trying to accomplish. Here are a few Jobs-to-be-Done examples.


As a kettle maker it would be easy to conclude that people buy your product to “boil water” even though boiling water is just a step in the real job the customer is trying to get done—which is to ”prepare a hot beverage for consumption”. If you want to keep making kettles and do not want to focus on the entire job, then you are at risk of a competitor coming along (like Keurig) with a solution that gets the entire job done on a single platform. It is not uncommon for a new competitor to overtake a market by finding the capabilities, resources, funding, technology and know how to create an offering that gets the entire job done.

Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

Applying the universal job map

Success at innovation comes from a deep understanding of the customer’s job-to-be-done. As part of our Outcome-Driven Innovation process, we gain that understanding by first constructing a job map which enables the researcher to deconstruct the job into its component parts so it can be analyzed at the outcome level.

A job map is unique in that it is not a process map or a customer journey map. It does not describe what the customer is doing. Rather it describes what the customer is trying to get done. Many “maps” have a product-centric twist. A job map is solution agnostic: it describes the job independent of the solution that is being used to execute it.

With a job map in hand a company can envision the future of its market as solutions will evolve to get the entire job done on a single platform. In addition, the job map is an indispensable tool as it provides a framework from which to capture and organize the customer’s needs.

Learn more about our jobs-to-be-done framework.

jobs to be done map

Jobs-To-Be-Done Training

Look at your market through a new lens

To get acquainted with Strategyn, Jobs-to-be-Done and ODI, we invite you to schedule a one-day Jobs-to-be-Done Training Workshop and apply ODI to address a specific market challenge. In this JTBD training workshop, we guide your development and marketing teams through a unique innovation journey, helping them interact with their customers to:

  1. define the customer's job-to-be-done,
  2. construct a job map,
  3. discover the customer's desired outcomes, and
  4. envision the ultimate, breakthrough solution.
“Thinking about the whole job the customer is trying to get done rather than just part of it revealed critical unmet needs. Using this approach has enabled us to identify hidden opportunities that we can address.”
Joseph F. Amaral, M.D.
Vice President, WW Surgical and Technology, Johnson & Johnson Ethicon

Using the Jobs-to-be-Done interview techniques we popularized in the seminal article The Customer-Centered Innovation Map, (Harvard Business Review, May 2008), we inspire your team to see their markets through a customer-centric lens.

Download the Customer-Centered Innovation Map

Call us at 855-584-2212 to learn more about this transformational Jobs-to-be-Done Training Workshop. As the pioneers of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and Outcome-Driven Innovation, we have the experience and tools your product teams needs to put Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into practice.

jobs to be done hierarchy

ODI .Vs. Milkshake Marketing

Don't assume the milkshake gets the job done

In Clayton Christensen’s well-publicized jobs-to-be-done milkshake marketing video he ponders why, at the beginning of a work day, commuters go into a fast-food establishment and buy a milkshake. “What job are they hiring the milkshake for?” he asks.

In 2015 Strategyn worked with major QSR food supplier to help them understand the job the commuter was trying to get done as they stopped at a QSR on their way to work. Our client’s goal was to develop a food product that would meet the unmet needs of the commuter. To help them achieve their goal, Strategyn employed its ODI methodology. As part of the ODI process, Strategyn uncovered over 176 customer outcomes and quantified the importance and satisfaction of those outcomes with 968 commuters. Strategyn also conducted factor and cluster analysis to discover segments of customers with different unmet needs. Our approach to understanding this market and the conclusions we reached were very different than those reached by Christensen and his team.

The differences in methodology and results are highlighted in the model below. In the end we discovered that the milkshake does not get the job done significantly better than a bagel, yogurt, oatmeal, or an egg sandwich. What customers want is a product that can be ordered, prepared and received in a predictable amount of time without error. In addition, they want it to be optimized for consumption in a vehicle. Strategyn’s client is preparing to release a product that addresses the underserved outcomes with precision--and the solution is not a milkshake.

Read our blog, Customer Segmentation Is Soured By Milkshake Marketing

The Evolution of ODI and Jobs-To-Be-Done

30 years of jobs-to-be-done history

In 1990, after years of work as a senior product planner at IBM, Tony Ulwick had a breakthrough. He realized that product planning practices could be vastly improved through the use of Six Sigma principles if researchers were to deconstruct and study the underlying process that people were trying to execute while using a product or service, rather than studying the product itself. He envisioned that this approach would enable researchers to uncover the metrics that customers use to measure success and value as they go about executing these processes, and that these metrics could be used to identify opportunities for improvement and to evaluate the potential of new product concepts. This insight led to the creation of a new and promising innovation process.

Tony’s first major success applying his methodology came in 1992 when he helped Cordis Corporation reinvent its line of angioplasty balloon products.

By studying the process that interventional cardiologists were trying to execute (restore blood flow in an artery), he discovered a number of hidden growth opportunities and conducted a series of strategy sessions to help Cordis create a new product line. In less than 18 months, the company launched 19 new products, all of which became number 1 or 2 in the market. Cordis’ market share increased from 1 percent to more than 20 percent, and its stock price more than quadrupled. This success and the process Tony used to achieve it was showcased in the 2002 Harvard Business Review article Turn Customer Input into Innovation.

In the years following his first success, Ulwick led dozens of innovation initiatives achieving similar results with companies that included Motorola, Pratt & Whitney, Medtronic, AIG, Telectronics, and Allied Signal. He refined and improved his methodology as it was used successfully across a broad range of applications.

In 1999 Ulwick officially named his innovation process Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI).

In 1999 Ulwick had the pleasure of introducing ODI to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen who also saw the value of making the “underlying process the customer was trying to execute”, not the customer or the product, the unit of analysis. Clayton went on to introduce what he called "jobs-to-be-done" theory in his book The Innovator’s Solution citing Strategyn’s work in job and outcome-based thinking, market segmentation and the ODI process. Ulwick explained his ODI process in detail in a book released in 2005 called What Customers Want. Today, Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and the idea that people buy products to get a job done has gone mainstream.

Since Ulwick’s initial success, he and Strategyn have made 20-plus years of improvements to the ODI process while applying it in hundreds of innovation initiatives. It is the most comprehensive and effective approach for transforming Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into an effective innovation practice.

Ulwick and Christensen: The Birth of Jobs to Be Done (Spring 2000)

Anthony Ulwick introduced Clay Christensen to Outcome-Driven Innovation and the theory of "Jobs-to-be-Done" years before Clay labeled it and popularized it as Jobs Theory. In this video, Christensen reacts to the idea that Ulwick and Strategyn brought to him: the idea that companies can make innovation more predictable if they focus on the "underlying process" customers are trying to execute.

Jobs-to-be-Done Growth Strategy Matrix

Strategyn introduces a new way to think about disruptive strategy and four other growth strategies that companies can use to accelerate growth. In this webinar, we use Jobs-to-be-Done Theory to examine product successes and failures. We observe the same phenomenon time and time again: new products and services win in the marketplace if they help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply.

Applying Jobs-to-be-Done Theory

Tony Ulwick explains how Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is best applied to market selection, market and product strategy, development (UI/UX) and the buyer’s journey. Strategyn will introduce a comprehensive set of tools that renders many of the old tools of innovation obsolete. Make the ultimate upgrade in marketing and innovation.