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GuidesProduct developmentEverything you need to know about “Jobs to be Done”

Everything you need to know about “Jobs to be Done”

Last updated

29 June 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

Bringing a fantastic product or service to market doesn’t automatically translate to revenue. If the product doesn’t align just right with user needs, sales won’t soar.

Still, if your team got so focused on innovation that you forgot to tune in to customer needs, you’re hardly alone.

Fortunately, if you’re looking to achieve a better product-market fit, there’s an established framework that can identify your customers’ needs and motivations.

It’s known as the Jobs to be Done (JTBD) framework or “Jobs Theory.” In this approach, your product is much more than a collection of features. Customers buy it to perform a so-called “job.”

What is the jobs-to-be-done framework?

In "The Innovator's Dilemma," Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen established the Jobs to be Done (JTBD) paradigm, which suggests that customers hire products and services to get a job done. In other words, they buy a solution, not a product.

For instance, a beverage might be the best-tasting electrolyte drink on the market, but its “job” is keeping you hydrated during a rigorous workout. 

Similarly, your in-car video system engages kids during long car rides. And even if a manufacturer sets out to create the most state-of-the-art system for a new vehicle, it will still need to perform its primary job of running seamless video.

Again, JTBD comes down to the idea that people don't necessarily buy goods or services because of their bells and whistles, no matter how wonderful they might be. Instead, they acquire a product or service, believing that it will help them accomplish a certain “job” better than any other option out there.

The three types of Jobs

The Jobs to be Done concept states that customers need goods or services to perform a primary job. Here are the main types:

1. Functional jobs

These jobs are the practical things buyers expect from a product or service. For example, lawnmower buyers demand efficient grass-cutting.

2. Emotional jobs

A job that appeals to consumers’ feelings and desires is emotional. For example, a particular brand of clothing or car might feed into the buyer’s feeling that they are a fun or even rebellious person.

3. Social jobs

If customers want to be seen using your product or service, it fulfills a social job. They may wish to signal wealth or prestige or fit in with a specific peer group. For instance, a luxury watch does the functional job of telling time, but if customers wear it to impress prospective clients, it also performs a social job.

Why “Jobs to be Done” matters

Every company that needs to know its clients and produce in-demand products or services should consider using the JTBD framework. Here are some ways that JTBD is valuable and relevant: 

It’s applicable across industries and product categories 

Whether you offer consumer goods, B2B services, or anything in between, understanding your clients' jobs will help you build to their requirements and preferences.

Understanding consumer needs

JTBD lets you focus on your target customers' needs over product characteristics. That way, you can build better goods aligned with your customer's needs and motivations.

Creating products that solve real problems

Following a JTBD framework, you can concentrate on genuinely solving pressing concerns, thereby boosting loyalty and revenue.

Providing a competitive advantage

Knowing your targets’ needs better than competitors gives you a competitive edge because you can tailor your products accordingly.

Market segmentation

You can also use the JTBD framework to establish market segments by job type.

How does the Jobs Theory apply to product development?

To assess consumer satisfaction, test new product concepts with customers. It may entail surveys, focus groups, or early adopter in-market tests. You can improve product concepts based on client input.

Seven things product developers can do with the "Jobs to be Done" framework

  1. Identify jobs customers are trying to get done. Begin by noticing which jobs your customers need. 

  2. Categorize the jobs to be done. After identifying jobs, classify them as functional, emotional, or social. 

  3. Define the competition. Understanding competitors is crucial to differentiating your product or service and identifying how it can add value to customers (over and above what your main competitor delivers).

  4. Create job statements. As you work to understand customer needs, create job statements. These summaries of the job emphasize its functional, emotional, and social components from the customer's point of view.

  5. Prioritize the JTBD opportunities. After creating job statements, sort product development opportunities by priority and frequency.

  6. List the outcome expectations. Customers anticipate specific results from these jobs to be done, including functional, emotional, and social effects. So, for guidance during product or service development, anticipate and list the desired outcomes.

  7. Monitor. Lastly, realize that jobs change slowly. Businesses should monitor client preferences and alter their products and services accordingly.


What is another word for Jobs to be Done?

You can also refer to the Jobs to be Done framework as "Outcome-driven innovation." Again, “jobs” emphasizes client outcomes rather than product features.

How does Jobs to be Done differ from traditional market research?

Conventional market research examines client preferences, attitudes, demographics, market trends, and competition. On the other hand, Jobs to be Done research examines consumers' goals and how current goods and services meet them. In addition, Jobs to be Done research can discover client requirements and innovation potential through its job’s focused analysis framework.

How do you identify Jobs to be Done in a customer interview?

Customer interviews should go beyond product or service features to identify Jobs to be Done. Instead, strive to grasp the customer's motivations and background. For example, "What are you attempting to achieve?" and "What results matter most to you?"

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