Jobs to be Done: Approaches & People

This is a 5 part series on understanding the different flavors of JTBD and how to decide which is most appropriate to help you meet your innovation goals.


There are two generally accepted schools of thought when it comes to moving JTBD from theory to practice.

Approaches

Strategyn’s Outcome-Driven-Innovation (ODI) Process

I first talked to Tony Ulwick about ODI in 2016. I said “oh, so you took JTBD and made it actionable!” Tony was quick to let me know that ODI predated Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Solution”.

According to the Strategyn website, ODI “starts with a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done and the metrics they use to evaluate competing product and service offerings. These metrics, a special type of need statement we call desired outcomes, form the basis for our innovation process. By knowing how customers measure value, companies are able to align the actions of marketing, development, and R&D with these metrics and systematically create customer value.”

The Strategyn approach is… comprehensive. In his 2016 book “Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice”, Tony Ulwick lists out the 84-step process that his ODI Practitioners use in a client engagement. I’ve heard ODI described as a sledgehammer.

As may be obvious, this approach is very prescriptive. It involves both qualitative and quantitative research and leads to market and product strategy formulation. Sound great? All you consultants out there, don’t get too excited. ODI is a proprietary approach developed and practiced by Strategyn.


Rewired Group’s “Switch Interviews”.

If you’ve ever seen an offer to ‘learn how to run a JTBD interview’, you’re probably learning a technique developed by the Detroit-based Rewired Group. They hold in-person workshops and there’s also an online video training series to help people learn how to conduct Switch interviews.

According to the video course website, these interviews help aspiring entrepreneurs

  • get to the real causality of why a consumer shops and buys,
  • understand when to accept what a consumer is saying as fact, and when to challenge, and
  • why consumer satisfaction is important, but it fails us when we’re developing new products.

The Switch interview training focuses on the gathering of insights, but does not include any discussion of how to interpret and apply the findings. As a result, it has become a fruitful starting point for a variety of different ways to interpret and apply findings.


Characters

Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author published “The Innovator’s Dilemma (1998),” “The Innovator’s Solution (2003)” and “Competing Against Luck (2016)”. These books introduced the concepts of disruptive innovation and Jobs Theory.

Tony Ulwick is the founder of Strategyn and the author of “What Customers Want (2005)” and “Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice (2016)”. He explains how he introduced the Strategyn Outcome-Driven Innovation process to Christensen in the late ‘90s as a way to solve the Innovator’s Dilemma in this blog post, which also features a fantastic video from 2000. Oh, that fashion style!

In “the Innovator’s Solution,”, Christensen mentions Rick Pedi, the CEO at Gage Foods who coined the language ‘job to be done’. In his most recent book “Competing Against Luck”, Christensen retells the story of Rick Pedi and his partner Bob Moestra as consultants who were working in the baking industry and wished to learn more about disruptive innovation.

Bob Moestra and Chris Spiek founded the Rewired Group and you’ve probably heard them on JTBD Radio or the aforementioned Switch Interviews video.

Jay Haynes runs thrv, which is a Jobs to be Done Product Management Software platform, and also offers services & training. He’s also the former CEO of Strategyn, so the interface includes the Desired Outcome Statements that are uncovered during the ODI process.

(Updated Dec 2017) Alan Klement is the author of what he claims is the first book dedicated to Jobs to be Done (in 2016). As will be obvious over this series, this is simply not the truth.

Alan claims he has “Evolved” JTBD Theory, and frequently tries to discredit others working in the field. While his perspective on customer progress is interesting, his claims are too much a departure from the original published material on JTBD for me to consider them a true evolution. Instead, Klement seems intent on re-writing history and claiming JTBD as his own, even frequently contradicting himself on Twitter. I may include some of his thoughts as a counter-point through this series, but anyone hoping to apply a Jobs to be Done lens to his work would be well-advised to look to established approaches, rather than this ‘evolution-of-theory-in-progress.’

And look at what I’m doing, even now. I’m focusing too much on the ‘products’ and not enough on what they can help you do.

Start the JTBD series here.


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Andrea Hill is the principal consultant at Frameplay. Frameplay is an innovation consultancy that helps companies become more customer-focused and thrive in a rapidly changing world. Learn more at frameplay.co