A real-world snapshot of JTBD at Product Camp

On August 16th, Product Anonymous held their annual Product Camp in Melbourne. It’s a free event, organised by passionate volunteers and supported by sponsors.

I was lucky enough to get the privilege to run an off-the-cuff session on the topic of jobs to be done. To save time and make it relevant, we used the example of what tasks people were hoping to accomplish at product camp.

The format of the session being broken a rough agenda of:

  1. A 101 introduction to Jobs To Be Done and why it is used
  2. Group work to identify potential jobs and related outcomes
  3. Wrap-up with reflections on the exercise and a Q+A

https://twitter.com/pcampmelb tweeted on the session in near real-time.

I promised participants that I would provide an online list of useful resources. Scroll down to the bottom of the article to find them.

In the remainder of the post, I walk through the insights garnered from the 45m session and in the process run through some of the concepts we talked about in more depth.

Jobs To Be Done at Product Camp

Eliciting why people were hiring product camp

The first exercise, was for the two separate groups to contribute the functional or emotional tasks that they were seeking to accomplish by coming to the event.

Across the two groups, we got 23 separate individuals contributions that are visualised using Tagul.

The full list can be found on Google Sheets. I took the liberty of translating these into a synthesised list of job statements.

In the real world, you would do you best to confirm the original statements in realtime via questioning and observation. You would of course have exhaustive notes and transcripts.

I’ve done my best to guess from memory, but can’t know if I have captured everyone’s intent.

Nonetheless, I got from 23 unique statements down to thirteen, of which 80% were functional and the rest emotional. Out of these thirteen, six stood out (at least for me).

  • Discover proven new techniques that will make me better at my job
  • Get real-world perspective on the state of my skills/knowledge
  • Better engage with product managers I work with on my projects
  • Find thought leadership to share with my colleagues at my work
  • Find out whether Melbourne is a good place to get a product job
  • Feel a sense of belonging to a professional peer group

Context is everything

The Product Anonymous organisation has it’s own vision, mission, values, capabilities and the mix of people who participate in events.

Remove that context and you would get a widely different opinion on what the job statements mean, their importance and how to best satisfy them.

Therefore, I’d suggest before undertaken any kind of JTBD analysis that you first understand that context using any one of the popular tools and techniques available.

For example, from what little I know of Product Anonymous, I wouldn’t expect them to start offering onsite training courses, or doing primary research or being a recruitment agency.

This is also where outcome statements come in. Often the job statement is too broad. Instead, you can find that find diving down into outcome statements you can find niche areas that can be satisfied uniquely by an organisation.

Outcome statements

Outcomes are how customers measure the successful execution of a job. They have a direction of improvement, unit of measure (number, time, frequency, likelihood) and a description of the outcome desired.

After discussing the jobs, each team had a tiny amount of time in which to contribute some specific outcomes.

You can find the full list in the google sheet.

Even with the job “Discover proven new techniques that will make me better at my job”, there were some fine-grained differences in how to measure success — for example:

  • Increase the likelihood that I finally understand complex idea that I previously had not grasped
  • Increase the likelihood that I learn about new and useful concepts
  • Increase the likelihood that my work colleagues see me as a source of good ideas for how we do product management
  • Increase likelihood of making tangible improvements in my job performance

If we had time, we would have drilled down much more into the jobs identified earlier. We would have explored constraints, asked “why three times” and broken jobs into job steps to trigger more discussion.

Quantitative research

One of the great things about Jobs To Be Done and OutCome Driven Innovation (ODI)is that they avoid specifying solutions — they leave that up to the multi-disciplined design and development team.

However, before you unleash such a talented group of individuals, you need to come to an agreement over where to focus. In ODI, you do this via quantitative research asking respondents about the importance they place on the job and their satisfaction with their current solution.

Using a formulae given by Strategyn (there are alternative approaches) you can derive a scatterplot that identifies the jobs and outcomes that should be prioritised.

The holy grail of any ODI research team is to discover:

  1. a significant investment programme underway that is solely focused on addressing unimportant outcomes where customers are already satisfied with the solution.
  2. a set of related outcomes that are highly important for a significant and reachable segment of a market, and for whom no existing solution satisfies these related outcomes.

At the end of product camp, the guys handed out what is a very typical piece of research — an NPS 1–10 rating scale and a detailed comment box.

I am sure that they will get valuable data from that. It might tell them what is wrong, people be a source of interesting ideas and it will likely reveal any problems in execution on the day.

However, it will not necessarily provide hard facts on where their focus should be or where they can best contribute to a thriving product management discipline.

Since I’m naturally curious, I have posted a link to a survey below — so you can get a feel for how a survey can work.

If I get some reasonable data, I’ll share how you can visualise the information and spot opportunities in a later post.


Disclaimer: The survey is a cutdown version using the free software typeform. For a real survey you would expect more data points and the use of software like fluidsurvey so that you can export data, issue to internal/external panels and incorporate larger numbers of questions.



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