Strategyn Brand Logo
Book a strategy call
Product Managers

How product teams launch the next big thing

Marketing, sales, executives, R&D, even your customers— everyone has their ideas for potential products and features. And they all go to bat for them. Then decisions are often made based on who speaks the loudest or has the most clout instead of what will actually benefit the customer.

But using Jobs-to-be-Done and the customer’s job map offers a more efficient and reliable way to define and execute against your product roadmap—and nail your next product launch.

Your sole focus becomes figuring out how to help the customer get their job done better and/or more cheaply.

Using the approach we’ve outlined in this playbook, you get concrete answers to questions like:

  • Do our products get the entire job done —or only parts of the job?

  • What holes exist in our portfolio?

  • Are customers cobbling together solutions to get the entire job done?

  • What product in our portfolio holds the potential to get the entire job done?

With this knowledge, you know exactly where to add value in your solutions to solve for real customer needs—and can align your teams around these efforts.

From LPs to streaming— music technologies evolve around the job-to-be-done

Consider the job map for the job of “listening to music.”

Not too long ago, the market solution for listening to music was the CD.

While an improvement over the LP, the CD only helped the customer complete the “execute” step of the job map—and part of the “modify” step (by allowing the user to skip songs).

Despite the format wars of the 1990’s, where many companies invested millions of dollars in new technologies like the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) and Sony’s MiniDisc, the CD was the preferred solution for the job of listening to music.

That was until a solution came along that gave consumers a solution that did more of the job.

While the manufacturers of CD’s and the rest of the format wars were focused on one job step (“execute”), a new solution emerged that helped customers to complete more of the job. Creators said they would sacrifice sound quality to allow customers more control through the entire process of listening to music.

The Mp3 player turned the music industry upside down with the revolutionary ability to locate, organize, change, and listen to the music you wanted to listen to—without having to carry around a binder of CD’s. Customers eagerly left CD-quality sound behind to get more of the job done.

Fast forward to the present day where streaming services dominate the listening-to-music market.

The same way Mp3 players came along by doing more of the job, streaming services developed tools to prepare music for you, recommend new music, and share music automatically. Some devices even sense you are likely to be exercising (assessing the situation in the “define” step of the job map) and automatically play your favorite workout playlist.

As this example illustrates, the job map remains stable over time, while new technologies and solutions emerge that get more of the job done.

It’s these more complete solutions that ultimately win in the marketplace.

A real-world product management success story

In late 2001, Kroll Ontrack was faced with a strategic opportunity— and a challenge.

The opportunity lay in the potential market for an electronic document discovery solution for the legal industry (until then, everything had been done on paper).

The challenge? Creating an effective market strategy for a business still in its infancy. They had failed on their first two attempts at market entry.

"All of the underlying foundational elements suggested that this would be an important industry opportunity. What we didn’t know was how to understand what clients wanted to achieve in a way that could be translated into an efficient and effective strategy for growth. The electronic discovery market was so new that if you asked clients what features they wanted, they didn’t know what you were talking about.”

- Ben Allen, CEO of Kroll and former Kroll Ontrack president

Ben’s team found the answers in the job map.

First, they defined their market around the job-to-be-done and the people executing that job. For Kroll, they focused on lawyers who were trying to find information (evidence) that would support or refute a case.

Then they created a job map describing the perfect execution of this job-to-be-done.

With this approach, Kroll discovered 9 opportunities to help their customer better complete job steps related to information management during the litigation process. They also found 11 opportunities related to extant electronic discovery approaches.

They built their product strategy and product roadmap accordingly—which worked out pretty well for them.

"Kroll Ontrack leapfrogged the competition with a revolutionary innovation, because it added capabilities based on the job that customers were trying to get done rather than seeking to improve the current solution platform.”

- Andrea Johnson, VP of Marketing & Communications

Innovate with confidence

Like Kroll, once you have determined where the opportunities exist, you can begin solutioning with confidence. It’s easy to see which products and features to prioritize when you know exactly what your customers are trying to get done.


Take your Jobs-to-be-Done practice to the next level

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

Strategyn 12re
Stop guessing. Start innovating.
Book a Strategy call
Strategyn 12e2