Understanding "Jobs to Be Done"

Understanding "Jobs to Be Done"

In the realm of innovation, the concept of "Jobs to Be Done" (JTBD) offers a compelling framework for understanding customer needs and driving product development. This approach shifts the focus from the product itself to the underlying tasks that customers are trying to accomplish.

By identifying and understanding these jobs, companies can innovate more effectively, creating products and services that truly resonate with their target audience.

The essence of JTBD

At its core, JTBD is about perspective. Instead of asking what features a product should have, it asks what tasks customers need to accomplish. This subtle shift in questioning leads to profound insights into customer behaviour and preferences.

For instance, when people buy a drill, they don't necessarily want a drill; they want a hole in the wall. The job they need to be done is making that hole, not owning a drill. This analogy simplifies the JTBD concept, illustrating how focusing on the task can lead to innovative solutions.

JTBD in innovation management

Innovation management involves steering the creative capabilities of an organisation towards practical and profitable outcomes. Integrating the JTBD framework into this process enhances its effectiveness by:

  1. Identifying unmet needs
    By understanding the jobs customers are trying to get done, companies can identify gaps in the market where current solutions are inadequate.

  2. Guiding product development
    Insights from JTBD analysis can inform the design and features of new products, ensuring they are closely aligned with customer needs.

  3. Differentiating offerings
    Focusing on the job allows companies to differentiate their products based on how well they accomplish the customer's task, rather than on features or specifications.

Implementing JTBD

Implementing the JTBD framework involves several steps:

  1. Research
    Begin with qualitative research to understand the tasks your customers are trying to accomplish. This can involve interviews, observations, and other ethnographic techniques.

  2. Analysis
    Break down the jobs into specific, actionable tasks. This helps in understanding the nuances of each job and the context in which it is performed.

  3. Solution development
    Design your product or service to address the jobs identified. This step involves creativity and innovation to find the best way to accomplish the tasks.

  4. Testing and iteration
    Validate your solutions with customers to ensure they effectively accomplish the jobs. Use feedback to refine and improve your offerings.

The pros of JTBD

  • Customer-centric
    JTBD puts the customer's needs at the forefront of the innovation process.

  • Clear focus
    It provides a clear focus for product development efforts, reducing the risk of feature creep.

  • Competitive advantage
    Products designed with JTBD in mind are often more closely aligned with customer needs, offering a competitive edge.

The cons of JTBD

  • Research intensive
    The approach requires significant upfront research to accurately identify and understand the jobs.

  • Complex analysis
    Breaking down jobs into actionable tasks can be complex and time-consuming.

  • Innovation pressure
    There may be pressure to constantly innovate to meet the evolving nature of jobs.


The "Jobs to Be Done" framework is a powerful tool, offering a customer-centric approach to product development. By focusing on the tasks that customers are trying to accomplish, companies can create innovative solutions that truly meet their needs.

While the approach requires significant effort in research and analysis, the potential for creating differentiated and successful products makes it a worthwhile investment for any organisation looking to innovate effectively.

In summary, JTBD is about understanding and addressing the underlying tasks or problems that customers are trying to solve. This approach not only fosters innovation but also ensures that new products and services are deeply rooted in customer needs, leading to greater success in the market.

Free e-book download

All that written, there is a great e-book you can download for free here. It's written by Tony Ulwick. It includes some tools and templates you'll be able to take to work straight away.