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Jobs To Be Done Examples and Principles

4 minute read | Jun 21, 2024
product, marketing

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Jobs theory co-founded by Bob Moesta and Clayton Christensen can help product, sales and marketing teams build and sell products based on what customers actually need.

To understand Jobs theory let us examine a job that has existed for thousands of years - fast guaranteed delivery. jtbd example

Example: Fast guaranteed delivery

Clayton Christensen in a talk explains that even over thousands of years of technological innovation, the job of needing fast guaranteed delivery has remained constant:

  • In Roman Times, Julius Caesar hired horseman and chariots to deliver declarations of war.
  • Queen Victoria hired trains to deliver diplomatic gifts to maintain alliances.
  • Winston Churchill hired airplanes to deliver medical supplies to troops.
  • Today we hire FedEx to deliver passports and important packages.

Here is the Job statement for fast guaranteed delivery:

Context Motivation Outcome
When I have something important to send... I need fast guaranteed delivery... So I know when it will arrive safely.

When competing, improve on the dimensions relevant to the job. For example, drone delivery may work for fast food delivery, but would need perfect certainty before people trust it with sending a passport.

When building and selling innovations it is worth remembering that - “There are no new jobs”. Your task is to understand the progress people are already trying to make and then do it better than their current solution.

Three core principles of Jobs theory

Here are the three core principles of understanding and applying Jobs theory:

  1. Progress over personas
  2. Fire before hire
  3. Ask when was the last time

1. Progress over personas

People buy and use products based on the progress they are trying to achieve, not on their persona characteristics.

Imagine you develop an inspection app. Just because a demographic of your users may be male 42 year old, middle income warehouse workers, that's not what causes them to buy your app. Needing to capture and share food quality inspections for HACCP certification is what causes them to use your app.

Correlation isn’t causation - causation is causation. Focus on the progress your customers are trying to make, not just personas or job titles.

2. Fire before hire

Remember that “there are no new jobs”, which means customers are already using an existing solution even if that solution is non-consumption.

Before hiring a new product to solve their problem, they will have to fire their existing solution. There are two powerful negative forces that prevent people from trying something new: 1) Habit of the old; and 2) Anxiety of the new.

For example, imagine switching from a paper-based inspection process to a digital app:

  1. Habit of the old: having to tell the data-entry team they will need to overhaul their current manual entry processes
  2. Anxiety of the new: the new digital template being able to capture all the existing critical fields used in the paper process

3. Ask when was the last time

To improve your successes of identifying and solving the right Job, look out for “struggling moments”. Struggling moments are specific times the customer struggled to make progress towards the job or tried a different solution.

For example, ask when was the last time your customer had to prepare and share food safety inspection reports with an assessor. What did they struggle with, what information was incomplete, how long did it take, what other solutions did they try in the past, what didn’t they love about it.

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