Jobs to be Done (JTBD) has been a very popular discussion topic in recent years. Product managers and researchers are adopting Jobs to be Done to help understand their customers’ needs, their markets, and their competitors. But what exactly is Jobs to be Done? Is it a framework? A methodology? What’s the buzz all about?

Jobs to be done

What is Jobs to be Done?

Jobs to be Done is best understood as a perspective. It is a lens for understanding the outcomes your customers are seeking. When you understand the outcome your customers are seeking, you can build products that help them achieve those outcomes, and therefore improve their lives. When you make life better for customers, they stick around. Jobs to be Done can help you build better products as it helps you understand why your customers buy your product, not simply what they bought.

“People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”

The idea behind Jobs to be Done is that companies hire your product to do a certain job. Products enable customers to get a “job” done.

Understanding your customer’s Job to be Done

To truly understand the job your customers are hiring your product for, you need to understand the journey that lead them to your product. What triggered them to find your product? What was the first pain point or realization that they could hire a product to do something better? To do this, you can’t just make assumptions. In fact, this is what many product teams do, and they end up missing the mark.

The concept of supply and demand can help us understand this better. Product teams supply “solutions” to customers, and customers have a demand for certain things they want to accomplish. When these solutions match, you’ve nailed the Job to be Done.

The Jobs to be Done Interview Technique

Jobs to be Done interviews take practice. First, you need a plan. What exactly are you trying to understand? Maybe you want to understand why your customers chose your product in the first place, so that your marketing team can improve the marketing website and on-boarding flow based on those insights.

Or maybe you want to understand why your customers are asking for a certain feature. They might be asking for specific functionality, but their could be an underlying “demand” hidden somewhere in that request. Perhaps the best solution to their problem is something else. To understand that, you really need to dig deep.

Start with what you know and work backwards. Build a timeline to help understand the events and triggers that led to them making a decision or raising a certain request. There isn’t a specific set of questions or a pre-written template for Jobs to be Done interviews, you really need to come up with your own questions based on your goals. However, here are some examples questions one might ask to understand the motivation to purchase:

  1. When did you purchase the product?
  2. What were you doing before you purchased the product?
  3. At what point did you start looking for a product to solve this problem?
  4. Were you looking at any competitors?
  5. Were their any specific features that influenced your decision to purchase?

As you can see, Jobs to be Done interviews get very detailed. In some cases, you might even ask what the weather was like, where they were, etc. To learn more about the Jobs to be Done interview technique, visit jobstobedone.org

Conclusion

Many product decisions are made based on assumptions. Their is a risk there. Jobs to be Done helps product teams make better decisions by truly understanding the job their users are coming to them for. Jobs to be Done interviews take time, but the results are worth it, as you gain a new level of understanding of your customers’ needs.