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Growing from the Core using Jobs-to-Be-Done

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Hosted by Tony Ulwick
Discussion Points
  • How to define your market for growth:
  • The Three options for growth (Core, Adjacent, New)
  • Techniques for Maximizing Core Market Growth
  • Live Q&A
Duration: 50 Minutes


Growing from the Core: A Jobs-to-be-Done Approach to Strategic Growth

Companies are constantly seeking efficient and predictable ways to grow.

One powerful approach is to grow from your core business, starting with where you’re already successful and expanding strategically from there. But how can companies identify the most promising growth opportunities?

The Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework offers a customer-centric methodology to uncover hidden growth potential.

Defining Your Core Market

The first step is to properly define your core market. Rather than thinking in terms of products or demographics, JTBD encourages defining markets as “a group of people trying to get a job done.” For example, instead of being in the “circular saw market,” a company might define their core as “helping tradespeople cut wood in a straight line.”

This shift in perspective opens up new possibilities. Once you understand the underlying job customers are trying to accomplish, you can explore ways to:

  1. Help customers get more of the job done
  2. Help them get the job done better

Getting More of the Job Done

Many products only address part of the customer’s overall job. By mapping out the entire job process, companies can identify opportunities to expand their offering. For instance, in the music industry, we’ve seen progression from CDs that only allowed listening, to MP3 players that enabled organizing music, to streaming services that facilitate discovery and sharing.

Getting the Job Done Better

Even if you’re addressing the entire job, there may be room for improvement. JTBD research techniques can reveal specific, measurable outcomes customers use to gauge success. For example, surgeons removing anatomical structures might want to “minimize the time it takes to mobilize structures bound by adhesions that block access to the target structure.” By identifying underserved outcomes, companies can focus innovation efforts for maximum impact.

Moving to Adjacent Markets

As growth opportunities in the core market become saturated, companies can look to adjacent markets. In the JTBD framework, adjacent markets fall into two categories:

  1. Current job executors (customers) trying to get a new job done
  2. New job executors trying to get the current job done

For instance, a company helping parents pass on life lessons to children might explore adjacent markets like helping parents select schools (same customers, new job) or helping teachers pass on life lessons (new customers, same job).

Expanding to New Markets

New markets involve both new job executors and new jobs to be done. While potentially rewarding, this approach carries the highest risk as companies lack existing customer relationships and job-specific expertise. Careful market selection is crucial.

The JTBD framework provides a consistent way to evaluate market attractiveness across diverse opportunities. Criteria might include:

  • Number of job executors
  • Degree to which the job is underserved
  • Growth rate of job executors
  • Frequency of job execution
  • Willingness to pay for better solutions

By applying these criteria systematically, companies can make data-driven decisions about which new markets to pursue.


The Jobs-to-be-Done approach offers a powerful lens for strategic growth. By focusing on customer jobs rather than product features, companies can:

  1. Uncover hidden opportunities in core markets
  2. Identify promising adjacent markets
  3. Evaluate and prioritize new market entries

This customer-centric, outcome-driven methodology helps make innovation more predictable and efficient, dramatically improving the odds of successful growth initiatives.

Tony Ulwick

Tony is the pioneer of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, inventor of the Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) process, and founder and CEO 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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