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The Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) theory

The Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) theory

Introduction

The Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) theory is an approach to understanding what motivates customers to buy a product or service. It’s not about the features of the product, but the reason customers on-board them in the first place. The jobs theory focuses on the circumstances and triggers that cause people to seek out products and services. They are more about motivations, progress and outcomes than about products, services, companies and markets. Job stories describe a user’s situation, motivation, action and results when using a feature. Do not focus on your own product features while writing job stories.

Jobs to be done theory is an approach to understanding what motivates customers to buy a product or service.

Jobs to be done theory is an approach to understanding what motivates customers to buy a product or service. Jobs are more about motivations, progress and outcomes than about products, services, companies and markets.

  • A job is a reason for getting things done. It's why we get up in the morning and go to work, where we spend most of our days doing different jobs in order to make money or accomplish something else. For example: we 'eat' because we're hungry; when you're at work, you 'communicate' with people (both inside your organization and externally); if you have kids then there are probably certain tasks that need doing around the house while they're asleep (like laundry).

It's not about the features of the product, but the reason customers on-board them in the first place.

A job is what customers are trying to get done. A feature is a part of the product that helps them do it. The biggest mistake we make as designers, marketers, and entrepreneurs is confusing these two things.

"The product isn't the job," says Jeff Lash in his book "Jobs to be Done." "A customer buys a product because he or she has identified an unsatisfied need or problem that he or she wants solved."

When you can identify an unmet need (or solve one), you're able to create something new: a new job for your customers' lives. That's how innovation happens!

The jobs theory focuses on the circumstances and triggers that cause people to seek out products and services.

  • Focusing on the customer
  • Focusing on the job they are trying to do
  • Focusing on the triggers that cause them to seek out a product or service

Jobs are more about motivations, progress and outcomes than about products, services, companies and markets.

The primary reason customers buy a product is to get a job done. They don't buy the product because they want to use it; they use the product in order to get something done.

The first thing you should do when building your business or thinking about how it could be improved is to focus on what jobs your customers are trying to do and how you can help them accomplish those jobs. The second thing you should do is learn from others who have already built successful businesses based on jobs-based thinking by reading books like "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne (one of my favorites), watching videos like this TED talk by Clayton Christensen, doing webinars with Marty Cagan or attending one of his workshops (I've been fortunate enough to attend two of them myself), listening to podcasts from companies like Help Scout whose founders were influenced by Jobs-to-be-Done theory, etcetera…

Job stories describe a user’s situation, motivation, action and results when using a feature.

A job story is a short narrative about a user’s situation, motivation, action and results when using a feature. A job story describes the user's job-to-be-done. The goal of the job story is to understand what motivates customers to purchase your product or service and how they use it to achieve their goals.

The lesson here: don't focus on the product; focus on the people using it!

Do not focus on your own product features while writing job stories.

It's tempting to focus on what you think the product can do, but this isn't the right way to think about it. Instead, try to start with your users' motivation. What is the job they want done? What problems are they trying to solve? What progress do they hope for in their lives as a result of using your product (e.g., "I want my business to grow.")

It's also important not just look at their motivation, but also where they are now and what results they're currently getting from other solutions that may or may not involve your product at all. For example: "I'm already doing X but I have Y problem; if I could just get Z then everything would be great."

Conclusion

It is all about understanding the customer, their needs, and how a given product might help them. And that leads to better products and services for everyone.

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