Discovering Jobs to Be Done

Ameet Ranadive
Dec 19, 2016 · 6 min read
  • We can define a Job to Be Done by deeply understanding the progress that a customer is trying to make in a particular circumstance.
  • Demographics and other buyer characteristics don’t allow us to properly cluster customers into a segment. Instead, we can cluster customers around the shared Job to Be Done.
  • To truly nail a Job to Be Done, we need to create an end-to-end experience, rather than just a point product.
  • When the alternative is nothing
  • Work arounds
  • Painkillers
  • Unexpected uses

What is a Job in your life?

Christensen wrote, “Understanding the unresolved jobs in your own life can provide fertile territory for innovation.” He noted that Sal Khan started Khan Academy when he saw his young cousin struggling to learn math. Sheila Marco started Care.com, the online marketplace for child care, after struggling with her own child-care needs.

When the alternative is nothing

Christensen writes about the opportunity to use Jobs to Be Done to serve people who currently aren’t hiring any product or service to fulfill their job.

Work arounds

Another way to discover Jobs to Be Done is to pay attention to situations where consumers are struggling to fulfill a job in their lives by cobbling together a workaround, or making compensating behaviors. Christensen writes:

Painkillers

One more way to discover Jobs to Be Done is to look for things that consumers want to avoid doing — things that are painful for them to do. The Job opportunity in that situation is to develop the “painkiller,” where hiring your product enables the consumer to avoid doing that activity altogether.

Unexpected uses

The last place to look for Job to Be Done ideas is “observing how your customers use your products, especially when they use them in a way that is different from what your company has envisioned.” In many cases, the customer may be using your product as a workaround or compensating behavior for a previously unknown Job to Be Done.


  • When the alternative is nothing
  • Work arounds
  • Painkillers
  • Unexpected uses

PM Insights

A collection of posts that contain lessons learned from my time as a product manager.

Ameet Ranadive

Written by

Entrepreneur. Product management @ Instagram.

PM Insights

A collection of posts that contain lessons learned from my time as a product manager.