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What is Jobs-to-be-Done?What is Jobs-to-be-Done TheoryWhy is Jobs-to-be-Done Important?JTBD Frameworks to Grow Your BusinessJobs-to-be-Done ExamplesThe History of Jobs-to-be-DoneJobs-to-be-Done Training

By: Tony Ulwick

What is Jobs-to-be-Done?

Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) is best defined as a perspective — a powerful lens through which companies can observe markets, customer needs, competitors, and market segmentation differently, and in doing so, make their success at innovation far more predictable and profitable. Companies look at the world of innovation through this lens to accelerate their growth.

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Download your free copy of Tony Ulwick’s book Jobs-to-be-Done: Theory to Practice.
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Jobs to be Done Book - Anthony W. Ulwick

What is Jobs-to-be-Done Theory?

Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is a theory of innovation that is based on the economic principle that people buy products and services to get “jobs” done, i.e., to help them accomplish tasks, achieve goals and objectives, resolve and avoid problems, and to make progress in their lives.

The theory goes on to say that to create products and services that are likely to win in the marketplace, companies must make the customer’s job-to-be-done the unit of analysis, work to gain a deep understanding of the job, and then create offerings that will help people get their jobs done significantly better and/or more cheaply.

Making the job the unit of analysis, rather than the product or the customer, opens the door to new possibilities. While products come and go, the customer’s job-to-be-done remains stable over time, providing companies with a stable focal point for their value creation efforts.

Consider the job of listening to music on the go.

 

If cassette tape, CD, and MP3 manufacturers focused on the job instead of the technology, they may have avoided disruption. Maintaining market leadership means staying focused on helping people get more of the job done and help them get it done better and cheaper.

With a focus on the job-to-be-done, the world looks different. A market becomes a group of people trying to get a job done. Customer needs become the measurable outcomes they are trying to achieve. A new language of innovation emerges — one that is helping companies take the randomness and risk out of their innovation initiatives.

DIVE DEEPER

The core tenets of
JTBD Theory

JTBD Theory is comprised of a set of tenets, each of which reveals a unique aspect of the theory. Collectively, the tenets offer a foundation upon which an organization can reinvent its approach to marketing and innovation..

The nine tenets of JTBD Theory: building blocks for predictable growth.

01

People buy products and services to get a “job” done.

02

Jobs are functional — with emotional and social components.

03

A Job-to-be-Done is stable over time.

04

A Job-to-be-Done is solution agnostic.

05

Success comes from making the job the unit of analysis, rather than the product or the customer.

06

A deep understanding of the customer’s job makes marketing more effective — and innovation far more predictable.

07

People want products and services that will help them get a job done better and/or more cheaply.

08

People seek out products and services that enable them to get the entire job done on a single platform.

09

Innovation becomes predictable when “needs” are defined as the metrics customers use to measure success when getting the job done.

These tenets detail a sound and proven theory because they are based on evidence, verification, and repeated testing by the Strategyn team. The world’s most sophisticated companies are relying on them to successfully accelerate their innovation efforts.

Why is Jobs-to-be-Done important?

Putting Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into practice enables companies to adopt a common language of innovation and transform their innovation processes from an art to a science. Most notable, applying JTBD allows companies to:

01

BREAK DOWN FUNCTIONAL SILOS AND ALIGN TEAMS.
With Jobs-to-be-Done, all functions in the business can align around a common understanding of the customer’s needs and how to create value for that customer.

02

CREATE WINNING PRODUCTS.
With Jobs-to-be-Done, all functions in the business can align around a common understanding of the customer’s needs and how to create value for that customer.

03

COMMUNICATE OFFERINGS EFFECTIVELY.
Jobs-to-be-Done helps marketers align the entire organization around a clear and consistent messaging strategy that strongly resonates with customers.

JTBD provides valuable insights to help inform nearly every business discipline.

Executives

Executives

JTBD helps executives confidently grow the business by answering questions like:

  • How can we align the efforts of our product teams around value creation?
  • How do we instill an innovation mindset that is truly customer-centric?
  • How can we be certain we are pursuing big ideas that will win in the marketplace?
  • How can we protect ourselves from being disrupted?

Product Managers

Product Managers

Jobs-to-be-Done helps product teams launch highly successful products by answering questions like:

  • How can we align the efforts of our product teams around value creation?
  • How do we instill an innovation mindset that is truly customer-centric?
  • How can we be certain we are pursuing big ideas that will win in the marketplace?
  • How can we protect ourselves from being disrupted?

Product Development

Product Managers

Developers use JTBD to streamline product development efforts by helping them determine:

  • What product tradeoffs should be made to maximize value creation efforts?
  • What consumption chain jobs are customers struggling to execute?
  • How effective is the user interface?
  • How can we improve the user experience and customer experience?

Marketers

JTBD for Marketers

JTBD helps marketing teams position and communicate the value of company offerings by answering questions such as:

  • What unique and valued competitive position should we claim?
  • What value proposition will strongly resonate with customers?
  • How should we customize our marketing communications?
  • How should we adjust our content?

JTBD Informs Design Thinking

Design Thinking is often implemented as a box of tools that developers can use to effectively develop a product, i.e., develop the product correctly.

Jobs-to-be-Done is a lens that product planners, innovators and strategists can use to make sure developers are developing the right product to begin with.

Companies that are putting Jobs Theory into practice are using it as a lens to determine:

  • What markets to target
  • The customer’s needs
  • Which needs are unmet
  • If there are segments of people with different unmet needs

These insights allow innovators to conceptualize product and service offerings that address specific customer segments and unmet needs. Using this approach, innovators are far more likely to define a concept that they can be certain will win in the marketplace — before the development effort even begins. Jobs-to-be-Done helps companies do the right things, while Design Thinking and agile development help development teams do things right.

Downstream Development Process

JTBD Frameworks To Grow Your Business

Jobs-to-be-Done Frameworks enable innovators to deeply understand what the customer is trying to accomplish.

Winning at innovation means targeting the right market, understanding the customer’s needs, discovering segments of customers with different unmet needs, and addressing the targeted needs with solutions that get the job done significantly better.

Strategyn has created a number of Jobs-to-be-Done Frameworks. They help innovators get started on the right foot and avoid the pitfalls that often derail innovation efforts.

Strategyn’s Jobs-to-be-Done Frameworks:

1.
THE JTBD MARKET DEFINITION CANVAS.

Market definition is often random and left to chance. Define it as a group of people trying to get a job done.

2.
THE JTBD JOB MAPPING CANVAS.

Begin the needs discovery process with a deep understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish at each step in the job.

3.
THE JTBD CUSTOMER NEEDS FRAMEWORK.

Gain clarity on the 3 types of customer, the 5 types of jobs and what inputs are needed to bring predictability to innovation.

4.
THE JTBD GROWTH STRATEGY MATRIX.

Know when to employ differentiated, dominant, disruptive, discreet, and sustaining strategies to win in the marketplace..

These Jobs-to-be-Done Frameworks help innovators adopt a new mindset and put Jobs Theory into practice.

The JTBD Market Definition Canvas

Companies use various, seemingly random classification schemes to define the markets they serve. We’ve seen innovators choose to define markets around products, demographics, personas, use cases, geographies, etc.. The point is, when the market definition process is obscure, random, and left to chanceinnovators can inadvertently choose to define markets in ways that cause them to churn, pivot, and fail. There is a solution. Define a market as a group of people and the job they are trying to get done.

What is a Market?

A Group of People
+
The Job They’re Trying to Get Done

Defining a market around the job-to-be-done provides a stable, long-term focal point around which companies can create value.

The JTBD Market Definition Canvas, below, helps the innovator move from a product mindset to a problem mindset when defining the market being served.

The benefits are far reaching as a market defined through a JTBD lens in stable over time, actionable, and dramatically simplifies the needs discovery process. The canvas is recommended for use in the Lean Startup community by Steve Blank.

Define Your Market Canvas

The JTBD Job Mapping Canvas

Understanding customer needs through a jobs-to-be-done lens begins with the creation of a job map. A job map is not a process map, or a customer journey map. It does not describe what the customer is doing. Rather it depicts what the customer is trying to get done in the ideal order for efficient execution. The job map reveals opportunities to help customers get the job done better and provides a structure for needs gathering.

All jobs are comprised of steps that can be universally classified into 8 categories:

A job map provides customer insights at the 10,000 foot level — and a structure to understand customer needs at a very granular level. The concept of job mapping was first introduced by Strategyn in the 2008 Harvard Business Review article, “The Customer-Centered Innovation Map.”

The JTBD Customer Needs Framework

This Needs Framework helps companies define, categorize, capture, and organize all the customers’ needs. It introduces the 3 types of customers to consider and the 5 types of jobs that exist. It explains what inputs must be captured from each customer type to gain a complete understanding of customer needs in a market.

When studying the customer’s job-to-be-done, customer needs are best defined as the measurable outcomes they are trying to achieve as they execute each step in the job. In most markets, customers can express well over 100 distinct outcomes. Using this framework, a complete set of needs can be captured in days, and used for years to come, as both the needs and the job-to-be-done are stable over time.

Our research shows that in over 90% of all product teams there is disagreement on what a customer “need” even is. This is the root cause of failure in innovation.

Understanding the customer’s needs is far more effective when:

  • There is agreement on what a need is
  • Needs are tied to the execution of the JTBD
  • Needs are knowable and discoverable

With a deep understanding of the customer’s JTBD and their measurable outcomes, the innovation process becomes far more predictable.

The JTBD Growth Strategy Matrix

The goal of innovation is to help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply. The JTBD Growth Strategy Matrix ties 5 common strategies to this construct and explains what each strategy is, why and when it should be pursued, and the prerequisites for success. It also takes the theory of disruptive innovation to the next level.

Sustaining Strategy

This Jobs-to-be-Done Growth Strategy Matrix reveals when you should pursue disruptive, sustaining, differentiated, dominant and discrete strategies to win in a market segment.

1.
DIFFERENTIATED STRATEGY.

A differentiated strategy is effective when targeted at a customer population that is underserved and willing to pay more to get the job done better.

2.
DOMINANT STRATEGY.

A dominant strategy requires a solution that gets a job done both better and more cheaply. Pursuing such a strategy is nearly always effective as it targets both under- and over-served customer segments and non-consumers.

3.
DISRUPTIVE STRATEGY.

A disruptive strategy is effective when targeted at a customer population that is over-served and not willing to pay more to get the job done better. This strategy also appeals to non-consumers.

4.
DISCRETE STRATEGY.

This strategy only appeals to customers who find themselves in situations where no or limited alternatives are available.

5.
SUSTAINING STRATEGY.

A sustaining strategy works when targeting a customer population that is has very few under- or over-served needs. While it’s usually a poor strategy for a new market entrant, it is often used by incumbents to retain customers.

Jobs-to-be-Done Examples

Kettle makers offer a prime example of how JTBD works in practice. As a kettle maker, it would be easy to conclude that people buy your product to boil water. But 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 the business keeps making kettles without focusing on the entire job, they are at risk of disruption by a competitor with a solution that gets the entire job done on a single platform (like Keurig). 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.

There are plenty of examples of businesses that have used Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation to achieve phenomenal growth.

Check out the following JTBD case studies:

Cordis Corporation was struggling to survive in the angioplasty balloon market. They discovered a dozen outcomes that were underserved and created products to address them. Cordis released 19 new products, all of which became number 1 or 2 in the market ,and their market share increased from 1% to over 20%. Read more.

Bosch successfully entered the mature and competitive circular saw market after discovering a unique segment of customers (finish carpenters) with significant unmet needs. By solving for these needs, Bosch’s innovations resulted in a highly successful product launch and dramatic improvements in customer satisfaction. Upon introduction, Popular Science voted the CS20 circular saw one of the top innovative products of the year. Read more.

Microsoft was under pressure to build additional value into their Software Assurance offering — and they needed innovative ideas to give customers more reasons to buy. With a more complete understanding of the jobs their customers were trying to accomplish, they were able to package their offerings in a more cohesive and compelling offering, which doubled year-over-year revenue. Read more.

The history of Jobs-to-be-Done

In 1990, Tony Ulwick invented a powerful innovation process based on the notion that people buy products and services to get a “job” done. The process helped companies discover and address the measurable outcomes customers try to achieve when getting a job done, making the innovation process far more predictable.

After a decade of successes applying his approach, Tony introduced the Outcome-Driven Innovation process and the underlying theory in 1999 to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen as a possible solution to the innovator’s dilemma. Clayton helped popularize this theory by introducing it in his 2003 book, The Innovator’s Solution, citing Tony’s work. He called the theory, “jobs-to-be-done” and over time the name stuck. See Clayton thank Strategyn for introducing him to these concepts in this video.

After witnessing a product failure first-hand at IBM in 1984, Tony hypothesized that if a company knew in advance precisely how customers measure success when trying to get a job done it would dramatically increase a company’s chances for success at creating winning products.

He founded Strategyn in 1991. Tony’s first major success using his methodology came in 1992 when he helped Cordis Corporation reinvent its line of angioplasty balloon products. Cordis’ market share increased from 1% to more than 20%, and the company’s stock price more than quadrupled.

Over the years, Strategyn has applied its methodology in over 1000 markets, and across nearly all industries, creating billions of dollars in new revenue growth for its clients. As the pioneers of Jobs Theory and the creators of the Outcome-Driven Innovation process, Strategyn is uniquely qualified to help your company accelerate growth through innovation.

STRATEGYN TIMELINE

Strategyn Timeline

JTBD Training & Resources

There are a variety of resources available to help innovators learn how to put Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into practice. Get started today.

Jobs-to-be-Done Training

Strategyn also offers a guided approach to your learning. Our Jobs-to-be-Done training courses are designed to help apply Strategyn’s Outcome-Driven Innovation process to a market of interest to you. As you learn ODI, you gain new insights into your markets and how to devise breakthrough solutions.

COURSE BENEFITS:

  • On-Demand Course Structure

  • Personalized Q&A sessions with a Innovation Practitioner

  • Certification

JTBD TRAINING CLICK HERE

Jobs-to-be-Done Book

Tony Ulwick’s Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice book is the most popular book on JTBD. Download a copy of the e-book and/or audio book for free. The book offers a thorough explanation of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and how it can be put into practice using the Outcome-Driven Innovation process.

download the free book
Jobs to be Done Book - Anthony W. Ulwick

The Official JTBD Playbook

Are you looking to get started? The Official Jobs-to-be-Done Playbook will help you jump start your innovation initiative. The Playbook helps you::

  • Understand JTBD

  • Define the markets you serve

  • Build a job map

  • Put JTBD into practice

get the playbook

Tony Ulwick

Tony is the pioneer of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, the inventor of the Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) process, and the founder of Strategyn. Philip Kotler calls Tony “the Deming of innovation” and Clayton Christensen credits him with “bringing predictability to innovation.” Published in Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review, Tony is also the author of 2 best sellers: What Customers Want and JOBS TO BE DONE: Theory to Practice.

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