A Guide to Jobs to be Done (JTBD) Approach: Definition, Strategies, Examples

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    Home / Growth / A Guide to Jobs to be Done (JTBD) Approach: Definition, Strategies, Examples

    Why do people buy products?

    Because they like them?

    Need them?

    Or is there an underlying cause behind it all?

    For experts like Joseph Schumpeter, it isn’t the product itself that people want. But the change it brings. The job it solves. Yet, to explain the whole story, we need to return to ten thousand years in the past.

    A hot savannah day. Lions are hunting every animal they see. Antelopes are grazing. At least until they spot a lion...

    But one of our ancestors doesn’t see the lions in the distance. She’s too busy contemplating.

    She eats what she can forage from the ground and hunt around. But this is not enough. The hunger is bothering her every single day. “There must be a better way” — she keeps telling herself. “There must be a way to change this.”

    Eons ago, we hunted and used feet to walk. Now, we have fast food & cars. Why the change? Because we wanted to evolve. Change the world around us.

    Adapt and remake it to suit us.

    Lion hunting for antelopes wants to catch them more and faster. But only humans think that hunting isn’t worth it. That it’s better to domesticate animals for food.

    The lion thinks only about what is. Today, it may come up with a faster or easier way to hunt. Tomorrow, it’s still a lion that hunts. Humans think about what Ought To Be.

    A lion doesn't think about evolving itself. It never has a Jobs to be Done.

    Humans do think about evolving themselves. And every time they begin the process of evolving themselves, they have a Jobs to be Done.

    What is Jobs to be Done?

    It starts with upgrading your customers. Don’t build better running shoes, train better runners. Your customers don’t want project management tools. They want a faster and more efficient workflow. JTBD states that markets grow/evolve whenever customers have a Jobs to be Done and then buy a product to complete it.

    ... Get The Job Done.

    A Jobs to be Done is a process a consumer goes through whenever she aims to change her existing situation into a preferred one but can’t since there are issues that stop her.

    The basic idea behind this theory is simple — instead of focusing on the product or even the customer, focus on the underlying process they are trying to get done through purchasing your company's products or services.

    Just put yourself in the customers’ shoes. They just want to do their things.

    Get stuff done.

    So when they find themselves with a Jobs to be Done, they basically hire products or services to complete the job for them.

    what is jtbd

    Products Allow Customers to Get the Job Done.

    Jobs to be Done describes the “better me.”

    It answers the question —How are you better since you started using the product?

    For better or worse, we humans are limited. We can’t just snap our fingers and make better versions of ourselves. Sleep in a much more comfortable bed just by thinking about it, for instance. This kind of change has an essential ingredient. Innovation. Either on the customers’ part or someone else’s.

    Progress = attaching or integrating new products or ideas into our lives.

    Let’s see how a Job to Done looks like in a real-world example. John is the leading character in our example. He’s leading a family construction company. Our John is a bit of an old-school guy. He barely got used to using mobile and emails to communicate. 

    And while his industry doesn’t require as much online communication as some others, he still receives a lot of emails. So much, in fact, he starts to complain about it to his friend Jane.

    “Look, I’m getting so many emails every day my inbox is completely clogged up. Even more, most of them are about trivial stuff. I often can’t find the one I need. My communication is fu**ed. Clients keep complaining about it.” — he tells her, slouching in his chair.

    “Have you tried Slack?” — Jane asks him.

    “What? I don’t slack!” — John loudly says, almost standing up.

    “No, I mean Slack as an app. It’s a communication platform for businesses.” — Jane answers with a smile.

    Jane further explains to our surprised John that he can use Slack to separate client and internal communication, as well as better organize and store important messages. John answered he has heard about something similar but thought only big corporations use them.

    He currently uses emails and phones to communicate. He just assumed that’s how small construction businesses communicate. Jane then tells him even a small, family-run business can use Slack to communicate.

    As Jane keeps talking, John’s thoughts start racing.

    “Slack could help my business have clear, organized communication. No more late replies to clients’ queries.” — he keeps thinking. After the coffee, they part ways. On his way home, John did a bit of research, saw that Slack had a free trial, and decided to use it. 

    Weeks pass, and our hero is sitting on his porch with his phone in his hands, still not believing how organized his communication has become.

    What Your Customers Are Searching For

    The moral of the story is that our dear John wasn’t looking for a corporate communication tool. He was looking to organize his communication and spot crucial clients’ questions and concerns. Throughout the tale, our hero slowly realized a new me is possible and that he needs to attach a product to himself to ascend to a new him.

    This is your typical Jobs to be Done. A customer goes about his life as they know it. Then comes the change. The consumer has the chance to improve himself — change something so they can grow. If they find a product that helps them spot that growth chance, they may evolve into a better version of themselves.

    There are two crucial caveats hidden here as well. For a customer, a Jobs to be Done is a process. A process of creating a better version of themselves. It isn’t something customers possess. It’s something a customer participates in. For you, it is a change in perspective. Focusing on what the customer wants to achieve.

    How to Figure Out Your Product’s ‘Jobs to be Done’

    When folks adopt a new product, it’s often because they got a Jobs to be Done. This is just another way of saying they want to change themselves, and your product is what initiates the change. But how can we understand the drive behind users adopting our product?

    Simple. Ask your current users. A year ago, they were great and didn’t need your product. Something happened after a while that disturbed their happiness. This disturbance led them to adopt your product while searching for the solution.

    That’s why having a talk with your users about this represents the easiest way to collect the data you require. This will let you find out:

    • Unmet changes that drove them to your products.
    • Constraints blocking them from experiencing or accomplishing their change.
    • Events, processes, actions, and situations increased their need to get the job done.

    Via the Jobs to be Done approach, you’ll better forecast when people have one. Also, which particular Jobs to be Done leads them to your product. Moreover, this helps you have clear target customers or users with a higher probability of adapting your product and committing to it, instead of those who abandon it.

    adopt jobs to be done

    Jobs to be Done Theory In Action

    If you want to put this theory into action, start with storyboarding for potential users. As you pinpoint your ICP, approach them and give them a storyboard of your product. Question them on their current situation and focus on their pain points.

    Next, provide various situations or likely outcomes coming from using your product. Spot those situations or outcomes that excite the users the most. Ask them to identify these as well. Once you have the confirmation, show how your product is the potential Jobs to be Done. Now you can talk about pricing and how much they’re willing to spend to experience the outcome.

    All these things provide you lots of valuable info for helping you learn more about your consumers, experimenting with your product, and using such data to develop the best possible product that folks just wait to adopt.

    The Two Parts of Product Adoption

    Two processes lead to product adoption:

    1. Jobs to be Done. People were fine last week, but now need something to solve their Jobs to be Done.
    2. Hire process. How they select products for Jobs to be Done.

    Focus on the hiring process as well if you want serious product-led growth. Also, measure how determined users are to continue using your product for Jobs to be Done. Is there a real commitment? Or are they just looking around?

    If you want help with this, figure out how users assess your product. How much do they trust your product will deliver results based on your promise? Do users comprehend your product and understand how it's used?

    Design products with these kinds of questions in mind.

    However, only once you have figured out Jobs to be Done. Then deliver this value to your users as fast as possible. People always have trust issues with new products. They also assess it based on its design. Is the user experience great? Or do they have trouble using and navigating it?

    Consider all these things during your packaging, positioning, and offer.

    Why adopt JTBD?

    Now, let’s take a look at some of the advantages of using JTBD:

    Improve the Customer Experience

    A traditional product manager has a good understanding of the products they create and sell. On the other hand, Job Managers are more familiar with their customer’s job-to-be-done and the metrics they use to measure success when getting the job done.

    By deeply understanding the customer’s job-to-be-done and their metrics for success, the Job Manager can continuously monitor the customer experience along dimensions that matter most to the customer.

    Remove Market Myopia

    A company that focuses on the customer’s job-to-be-done rather than just focusing on their own product offerings has a much broader view of how markets function.

    By definition, a job-to-be-done is often larger and more detailed than a product category.

    This perspective allows the company to think beyond today's products and consider a solution that can do the whole job on a single platform.

    Institutionalize Market Knowledge 

    With a focus on the job-to-be-done, the Job Manager uses ODI to create a job map, captures the customer’s outcomes, and creates quantitative research that reveals hidden opportunities for growth.

    Jobs and outcomes do not change over time, only solutions do. 

    When looking at product successes and failures, we see the same event time and time again — new products and services win in the marketplace when they help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply.

    This unique understanding of the market, and the new market map that supports it, become a long-term asset.

    This asset can be used to guide their development, marketing, sales, and even employee training activities for years to come

    What Your Jobs to be Done Approach Achieves for Your Product

    The best part of the Jobs to be Done approach is that it leads to product-led growth. Who doesn’t want customers who are actually excited about using their product? Your company wants people who adopt and commit to its products, doesn’t it?

    That’s why you need to ensure your product helps people — get their job done.

    To accomplish it, help folks identify their Jobs to be Done, as well as why and how the product helps them achieve it.

    A great way to go about this is to come up with a product concept. Engage potential users in everything and listen to what they say about your product. How do they feel about it? What are its positive and negative characteristics? Can they imagine themselves using your product? 

    Help their imagination.

    Show how your product relates to their Jobs to be Done. Show their new, improved life once they adopt your product and use it to help them achieve their Jobs to be Done.

    Your users want a better version of themselves. Develop products that help them achieve that. And their “new me” will thank you.

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