Introduction to JTBD

Introduction to JTBD

Introduction to JTBD

Jobs to be done is a useful framework for product managers, marketers, designers to understand customer needs

Fraser Deans

Founder, Insight Pipeline

Last updated

1st March 2024

What is Jobs to Be Done?

At its core, the Jobs to Be Done framework is a tool for uncovering the underlying "jobs" customers are hiring products or services to accomplish. These jobs can range from functional tasks, like cutting grass with a lawnmower, to emotional objectives, such as feeling confident in one's appearance. The essence of JTBD theory lies in its ability to shift focus from the product to the customer's desired outcome, offering a nuanced understanding that goes beyond surface-level needs or wants.

A Classic Job to Be Done Example

One of the most illustrative examples of the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) framework in action revolves around a common daily task: the morning commute. Let's break down this job and explore the variety of solutions that individuals might "hire" to solve it.

The Job: Getting to Work on Time

The core job to be done here is "getting to work on time." It's a straightforward job with clear success criteria—arriving at one's place of employment promptly. However, the simplicity of the statement belies the complexity and variety of underlying needs and circumstances that influence how this job is addressed.

When considering the job of getting to work on time, individuals have a multitude of potential solutions at their disposal. Each option serves the same fundamental job but caters to different contexts, preferences, and constraints.

  1. Driving a Personal Vehicle: Offers convenience, privacy, and control over departure times. Ideal for those with a direct route to work and available parking.

  2. Public Transportation: Buses, trains, and subways can be cost-effective and environmentally friendly options. Best suited for individuals living in areas with reliable and accessible public transit systems.

  3. Ride-Sharing Services: Apps like Uber and Lyft provide flexibility and convenience without the need for personal vehicle ownership. A preferred choice for those who value convenience but do not drive or lack access to a car.

  4. Biking: A healthy and eco-friendly solution that also serves as exercise. Optimal for those with shorter commutes and access to safe biking routes.

  5. Walking: The most cost-effective and health-conscious option, ideal for very short distances and individuals looking to incorporate more physical activity into their day.

  6. Telecommuting: Working from home eliminates the commute entirely. Suitable for jobs that do not require physical presence and for individuals who have the space and tools to work effectively at home.

Each solution caters to the same job but with distinct value propositions and trade-offs. The choice among these options depends on various factors, including the individual's location, work schedule, personal preferences, health considerations, and environmental impact concerns.

This example demonstrates the JTBD framework's strength in revealing the diverse ways people solve the same problem. By understanding the specific circumstances and priorities that drive customers' choices, companies can design products and services that more precisely meet their target audience's needs.

Who Will Find JTBD Useful?

The JTBD framework is not confined to any single industry or discipline; it is universally applicable and immensely valuable across various sectors. Technology companies, marketing professionals, product managers, and UX designers are among those who can reap significant benefits from applying JTBD principles. By integrating jobs to be done project management strategies and jobs to be done research, teams can foster a more customer-centric development process, ensuring that new products or services are not just innovative but truly resonate with target audiences.

Key Thinkers Behind JTBD

The JTBD concept has been shaped and championed by several key thinkers in the fields of innovation and business strategy. Among them, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen is often credited with popularizing the framework. His work, along with contributions from Tony Ulwick, Bob Moesta, Alan Klement have been instrumental in developing the JTBD theory into a practical tool for unlocking growth and fostering innovation within organizations.

Using JTBD in Tech Companies

For technology companies, the JTBD framework serves as a blueprint for innovation. It guides teams in developing features, products, or services that align with the actual needs of their users, rather than assumptions about what those needs might be. In the realm of software development, for instance, applying JTBD can lead to more intuitive interfaces, features that solve real problems, and ultimately, products that customers love and rely on.

Benefits of the JTBD Framework

Adopting the JTBD framework can yield numerous advantages:

  • Enhanced Customer Insights: JTBD helps businesses delve deeper into customer motivations, uncovering the why behind purchases and use cases.

  • Focused Innovation: By centering development around the jobs customers need to accomplish, companies can prioritize features and services that offer real value.

  • Competitive Differentiation: Understanding and addressing specific jobs can set a product apart in crowded markets, offering a unique selling proposition.

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction: Products designed with JTBD in mind are more likely to meet and exceed customer expectations, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.

Challenges with Using JTBD

While the benefits of the JTBD framework are significant, there are challenges to its implementation:

  • Identifying the Right Jobs: Determining the most critical jobs from a customer's perspective requires thorough research and analysis, which can be resource-intensive.

  • Interpreting Jobs Accurately: Misinterpreting jobs can lead to misguided product development efforts. It's essential to have a deep understanding of the customer's context and objectives.

  • Integrating JTBD into Existing Processes: For organizations with established development cycles, incorporating a new framework like JTBD may require significant adjustments to workflows and mindsets.

JTBD is a Powerful Tool

The Jobs to Be Done framework presents a paradigm shift in how companies approach product development and customer research. By focusing on the jobs customers are trying to accomplish, businesses can create more targeted, impactful solutions that drive customer satisfaction and business growth. While implementing JTBD comes with its set of challenges, the potential rewards make it an invaluable tool in the arsenal of any forward-thinking company looking to innovate and excel in their market.

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