Your go-to resource for acronyms, jargons, terminology, and useful words for product and customer experience teams.


Jobs to be done

What are the jobs to be done (Jtbd)?

It would be amazing if all the different departments in your company – from developers to marketers to strategists and R&D managers – could share a common understanding of customer needs and how to address them. This level of alignment and focus would change everything. So, how can this be achieved?

Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Clayton Christensen says, “People buy products and services to get a job done”. In other words, people don’t just want your product or service – they want to know how it will make their life better or easier. As a company, if you can keep this focus on the customer need, you will be successful.

Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is much more than just the basic constructs. The theory has a game-changing implication that provides a framework for defining, categorizing, capturing, and organizing all your customers’ needs. This way of thinking allows you to capture a complete set of need statements in days, which are then valid for years – rather than becoming obsolete quickly.

Jobs Theory provides a needs framework that, if used correctly, can be incredibly beneficial for product development teams. In the past, the main reason why products and services have failed is that there was a disconnect between what the customer needed and what the company provided. This is not shocking considering that only 5% of product teams know what their customers need from them. However, by using this needs framework, product development teams can learn more about the specific tasks that their customers need to complete and the measurements they use to assess success. With this knowledge, companies can create products that are much more likely to be successful because they will meet customer needs.

The Jobs-to-be-Done Needs Framework, which will be elaborated on in the following paragraphs, displays the three various categories of customers that companies serve, the five types of jobs they are aiming to complete, and what types of inputs are essential to bringing forth predictability to the innovation process. These are the key ingredients for a successful Outcome-Driven Innovation process.

Who are your customers?

Before a company can truly understand all of its customers’ needs, it must first take the time to define all of its customers. While this exercise may be relatively simple for a B2C company, many B2B companies struggle with this concept. Our consulting work has included conducting exhaustive research on this topic, and we have concluded that the types of customers a company serves can be best grouped into three categories:

The job executor: this is the person using the product to get the core functional job done.

The product lifecycle support team is comprised of the various groups of people who support the product from its creation to its disposal. This includes people who install, transport, repair, maintain, upgrade or dispose of the product. They execute consumption chain jobs.

The buyer is the person responsible for making the financial purchase decision.

In most B2C markets, the consumer typically plays all three roles: they are the product user, the supporter of the product throughout its lifecycle, and the buyer.

What types of jobs are they getting done?

There are 5 types of jobs that the person using the product, the product lifecycle support team, and the buyer is trying to get done, which the Jobs-to-be-Done Needs Framework reveals. The focus of this article will be on the 3 jobs that the job executor is trying to get done:

The core functional job: This is the underlying process that the job executor is trying to get done in a given situation – the reason a market exists. Examples of a core functional job-to-be-done would be “repairing a rotator cuff,” “passing on life lessons to children,” or “protecting against a cyber attack.”

There are two types of related jobs that a company should be aware of: functional and emotional. Functional jobs are those that the customer is trying to get done before, during, or after the execution of the core job. With an understanding of these related jobs, and which, if any, are underserved, a company can devise solutions that help its customers get multiple jobs done, making its product more valuable.

Emotional jobs are those that describe the way the customer wants to feel when executing the core job. Social jobs are included in this categorization. By understanding the emotional needs of its customers, a company can develop solutions that not only help them get their functional job done but also make them feel good about doing it.

Several jobs need to be carried out throughout the product lifecycle to ensure a positive customer experience. These jobs include product installation, set up, and storing, transporting, maintaining, repairing, cleaning, upgrading, and disposing of the product.

Making the purchase decision is a job that needs to be carried out using a financial lens. This means that financial and/or performance metrics are used to make the purchase decision.

What are the implications?

Navigating the market’s complexity starts with understanding the customer’s needs. The Jobs-to-be-Done Needs Framework is a guide that helps you to structure and categorize the customer data that companies receive each day. The framework also serves as a guide for understanding what inputs are needed, why they are captured, and how they should be utilized.