The famous Harvard professor Theodore Levitt once said: “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”
The drill is a means to an end; the goal is making a hole. (Some have even gone further and contend that the goal is to hang a picture).
This perspective shifts focus from the product to the problem people are seeking to solve, called jobs to be done (JTBDs). Clayton Christensen outlined a theory of JTBD in his landmark book The Innovator’s Solution, the follow-up book to his revolutionary work The Innovator’s Dilemma.
The concept is straightforward: people “hire” products and services to get jobs done. For instance, you might hire a new suite to make you look good at a job interview. Or, someone can hire a chocolate bar to relieve daily stress.
For each job, there are three aspects or dimensions to consider:
- Functional job: the practical task at hand to meet a person’s requirements
- Emotional job: the feelings a person desires while completing a job
- Social job: how a person believes he or she will be perceived socially while using the solution
ADDRESS UNMET NEEDS
For service providers, JTBD offer important insight: find those jobs that people can’t get done adequately, and address them directly.
Identifying these unmet needs can be done by looking at two factors for each job:
- The level of importance associated with getting the job done
- The level of satisfaction associated with getting the job done
Graphed on a chart, the jobs that are highly important but least satisfied should be targeted first.
Solutions that solve for these problems have a higher chance of being adopted and consequently a higher chance of succeeding.
There is no guarantee, of course, but the JTBD framework can provide teams focus and a rationale for making decisions.
There are lots of resources on the web about JTBD. Below are some of my favorite. In particular, see Tony Ulwick’s work on identifying opportunities, along with several case studies. The good folks at Intercom also have many practical examples of using JTBD in their offering development.
- “What Customers Want from Your Products,” Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook & Taddy Hall
- “Turn Customer Input into Innovation,” Tony Ulwick
- “Great products start with real problems,” Intercom
- “Six Steps to Put Christensen’s Jobs-to-be-Done Theory into Practice,” Stephen Wunker
- “Alan Klement on Designing Aroun Jobs To Be Done,” Chris Spiek
- “Uncovering the jobs that customers hire products and services to do,”Andrej Balaz
- “How to do a Jobs To Be Done Interview,” Jason Evanish
- “Interviews, Timeline, Forces, Job Stories — what’s the difference?” Tor L. Bollingmo