Jobs to be done — Turn Customers Jobs to Products

Upgrade your user, not your product. Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers. — Kathy Sierra
A tweet by Intercom

In continuation to previous article “Don’t solve wrong problem” (

Jobs-to-be-Done is a simple method, invented by Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, that allows companies and teams to identify the true opportunity behind customer behavior. The Jobs-to-be-Done framework attempts to remove the focus from people’s current purchasing behavior, and instead begs the question: “What are people really trying to accomplish?”

The Jobs-to-be-Done framework enables UX designers to break down customer needs into specific process steps. The resulting “Requirement Map” provides a structure that makes it possible to turn customer needs into product solutions.

Job theory starts with the premise that we, as humans, always want to improve our various life-situations in a variety of ways by performing some ‘jobs’ under specific ‘circumstances’.

We will be discussing a fictional case study to understand how this methodology can be used in practice.

A Roadster Bicycle

Think of a fictional company named “Iuvou”, that operates in bike business. It has been in business since a very long time and popular for ‘roadster bicycles’. Times are changing so are their sales, in negative direction. Yearning for increasing revenue, the company decides to innovate and re-think its core offering. Where to start? How to step forward?

Step 1: Work out the “jobs” that customers want to get done.

People consider looking or searching for some product or service when they start facing problem in their personal or professional life hoping to find a suitable product or solution which might help them out to cope with it. In order words: when customers buy a product, they basically “hire” something to “get a job done” in order to solve the challenge they are facing.

These jobs can be of three types. Functional jobs, just to get the ***t done efficiently. Personal jobs, which describes how people want to feel and social jobs, how they want to be perceived by others performing that job.

In this case, Iuvou’s potential customers can have a functional job to get from A to B, a personal job to improve health and a social job to express their lifestyle.

Step 2: Find out the ‘circumstances’ customers are exposed to.

A circumstance is a specific condition or context connected with an individual while trying to get a specific job done.

In this case, the possible circumstances for potential bike customers can be something like, a good paved cycle path or not so far commute place or pleasant weather, depending on persona to persona.

Let’s combine all jobs and circumstances that occur together in order to create a market segment or use-case (popular term). We can refer this step as persona building as well (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Step 3: Persona segmentation and market attractiveness

Evaluate the level of attractiveness of each market segment. These metrics can be evaluated by any estimation technique or gathered from available market research reports (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Step 4: Identify market requirements, not product features.

The combination of jobs and circumstances to market segment provides a clear path to decide on specific product requirement. So for each market segment identify which requirement a customer may have for an offering. A requirement is an attribute that a bike product should typically fulfill. Decide specific values for each requirement as per market segment or use case or persona (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Step 5: Categories requirement with Kano model

The Kano model, developed by Professor Noriaki Kano, generates a high-level ranking of all selected requirements along three criteria: exciting, performance, and basic. This requirement classification provides a guide to the subsequent process of making strategic product decisions about where to invest or not, and how to build your product.

We can use two categories instead of three:

1. Basic Requirement: Fundamental features product should have to be considered for purchased at all.

2. USPs: A combination of both ‘exciting and performance’ criteria. USPs will differentiate the product with its competitors.

Step 6: Prioritize USPs

Whereas basic requirements need to be fulfilled anyway, the company will have to decide which USPs to place emphasis on and when, and thus allocate the resources accordingly. Many USPs can cost company hell lot of time and some can raise the overall cost of solution. Which USPs will delight customer most? To answer these questions, a ranking of all USPs are required.

For this purpose, ‘pairwise comparison’ approach is useful. A pair-wise comparison allows for a quantified weighting between several major design objectives (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Step 7: Requirement tree

A tree diagram is a graphical tool to illustrate the variance of products or markets. By using different values of product architectural requirement, a tree can be created to visualize the complexity of the external market variety and/or the variety of internal product variants. Based on this understanding, complexity can be reduced by eliminating low volume segments and focusing on the more important market segments (Figure 5).

I will discuss Tree Diagram and Kano Model in more details in my coming articles.
Figure 5

In this case, two segments “Daily Business Commuters” and “Weekend Outing Wanderers” do not differ with respect to their product architecture. Company can target these two segments and serve them simultaneously by making a number of small modifications in design to ‘get the jobs done’ for that segment.

Every move gets on to understanding the customers. In my next article of this series, we will discuss how to empathize in Design Thinking to create customer value.