The theory of evolution was built on research and there are methods for studying evolution.
Ash Maurya

The theory of evolution was built on research and there are methods for studying evolution.

Agreed. And JTBD is a theory built upon research and there are methods for studying consumer’s Jobs to be Done.

I’m a “Practice Trumps Theory” type of person.

I would keep in mind the advice of Dr. Deming:

Experience teaches nothing. In fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then they wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.

A big reason innovation is broken, is that makers run around copying methods for pumping out products. And because they copy methods without any theory about the mechanisms that cause consumers to buy a product, they have a high failure rate.

However, if an innovator had a theory about consumer purchase behavior, then they could make a prediction as to the probability that consumers will buy the innovation they are planning on making.


I’ll give a real example. From a product that I am making and about to release.

I’m about to release a new data analysis tool. I applied the theory of JTBD to help me determine:

  1. With what probability a consumer will buy this new analytics platform.
  2. What I need to build and how to market it, so when consumers make a decision about buying it or not, they will see it as new, different and superior to what they are already doing.
  3. What their switching costs will be, and how I can minimize those
  4. Who my competition really is, and how do I show my product is better than those
  5. How the purchase-decision process operates (I’m selling a high priced, enterprise B2B product. So it’s a complex purchase-decision process)
  6. When I go on sales pitches, how do I structure the pitch, what do I say, who do I talk to, and how do I structure my pitch for the different consumers of the product (e.g. CEO, Product Managers, and Marketers will all need a different pitch)
  7. What are consumers existing willingness to pay? (This is huge! I almost messed this up. I was thinking of selling it for a few hundred dollars a month. Now I know it could be sold several $1000s a month)
  8. …I’ll stop there

JTBD helped me understand and execute ALL of these. And you’ll notice that most of it is about understanding how and why consumers buy a new product. Very little of this is about “needs identification” or “problem-solving”.

Too often, innovators think that if they just solve people’s problems, that somehow money will appear.

And that is why they fail.