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Jobs-to-Be-Done (JTBD) Theory

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Most Innovation efforts fail because of a lack of understanding of customers’ needs.

The enormous amount of data available today should have made it easy for organizations to capture what customers hope to achieve.  However, this is not the case.  Almost everywhere, data is being used to find correlations instead of causation.

The Jobs-to-Be-Done (JTBD) Theory assists in perceiving customer choices by getting to the level of what causes a purchase.  The objective behind JTBD Theory is to modify the Innovation process into a scientific method.  The framework provides a robust approach to ascertaining customer requirements and pain points.  JTBD Theory does that by identifying the tasks or jobs that customers desire to accomplish.

The JTBD approach enables building a deep grasp of the customers’ requirements.  The approach focuses on the job instead of the product or customer and defines products as items that people hire to do a certain job or fix a problem.  For instance, rather than thinking about the quarter-inch drill, the approach directs us to concentrate on drilling a perfect quarter-inch hole.

JTBD Theory gives organizations the capability to create Products and Business Models that have a profound impact on their target market.  The framework demonstrates an Innovation success rate of 86%, compared to a traditional innovation process average of 17%.  If implemented effectively, JTBD allows organizations to reap several benefits.  The model helps:

  • Determine customers’ needs that are underserved or overserved, appropriate strategies to use, generate ideas, and pilot test concepts.
  • Create flexible organizational operations and processes.
  • Inform key decisions in light of customers’ needs and jobs to be done.
  • Pull clients from the rivals’ solutions and product offerings.
  • Innovate products that offer a delightful customer experience and are hard to imitate.

As per Tony Ulwick, pioneer of the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and founder of Strategyn, a customer typically has around 50 to 150 needs in any given market.  And the number of unmet needs ranges from 5% to 80%.  The JTBD model accurately assesses customer needs.

The JTBD model encompasses 5 key phases.  The phased approach to implementing JTBD Theory helps the executives ascertain the unmet jobs of the customers and deploy the required resources to satisfy the targeted customer needs through innovative solutions.

  1. Hypothesize the Initial Job Statement and Job Map
  2. Uncover Customer Requirements
  3. Endorse Data
  4. Visualize Data to Identify Opportunities
  5. Develop Viable Value Propositions

Let’s, now, talk about a few of these phases in further detail.

Phase 1. Hypothesize the Initial Job Statement and Job Map

The first phase of implementing the JTBD framework calls for creating a precise Job Statement, summarizing the customer’s unmet jobs, and developing a Job Map to indicate specific actions customers take to meet their needs.

The Job Statement should be an unbiased, clear, and crisp written statement of the kind of improvements customers need in terms of features to be amended or processes to be streamlined, as well as the parties impacted by the change. This concise Job Statement should be written with the customer’s needs and perspective in mind.

Phase 2. Uncover Customer Requirements

In this phase, the project team should conduct qualitative interviews to gather firsthand information from the customers.  The aim of the interviews should be to refine and finalize the Job Statement and the Job Map.  The Job Statement should start with a verb, followed by the object, and include a contextual clarifier.  For example, “Get breakfast while commuting to work.” Here “while commuting to work” is the contextual clarifier.

The Job Map is a visual depiction of the job to be done, segregated into discrete steps.  It entails discerning customers’ needs, accessing the data to decide about the jobs they want done, developing the hypothesis, and executing the shortlisted activities.

Phase 3. Endorse Data

In this stage, the customer criteria employed to assess job completion—identified earlier through qualitative interviews—are validated through quantitative customer surveys.

Interested in learning more about the other phases of the JTBD Theory? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Jobs-to-be-Done Theory here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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In the modern Digital Age, advances in technology and communication, combined with the explosive growth in data information, have given rise to a more empowered global customer. Recent economic and political events highlight the need for organizations to understand how consumers view the world and the most important attributes for their purchasing decisions.

Thus, increasingly more organizations are seeking to invest and focus on Customer-centric Design. A clear understanding of customer needs and behaviors across the organization will help drive profitable growth strategies and provide the confidence to invest in opportunities at a time when staying within budget can be extremely difficult.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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