try thrv for free

Jobs Theory Blog

Product Roadmap Framework: The Ultimate Risk-Mitigation Strategy


Today we're going to talk about adopting a product roadmap framework. This is for teams who are trying to create product roadmaps. If you've ever tried to create one, it can be extremely difficult. There are different ways to prioritize roadmaps. There are different ways to prioritize what features you should focus on. There are different prioritization frameworks.

What we want to discuss is not just a list of different features -- there are lots of ways to do that with lots of different applications. The reason you really want to focus on prioritization is because of the cost of delays and the cost of building a roadmap. It's a ton of risk to build your roadmap and you want to mitigate that risk. What you really want to do with your roadmap is to achieve your business goals through product development, of course. This means you've got to have as inputs in your product roadmap the right product strategy. You have to have specific features you're building that are going to address unmet needs. Generally, your team has to have the right approach to prioritizing your roadmap.

Who Could Use a Product Roadmap Framework?

Let's talk a little about product teams who could use a product roadmap framework. Maybe they have created a roadmap already, they have a document that everybody's working on, but the product leaders -- the various product managers and the internal stakeholders -- have habitually disagreed on what the prioritization should be. You create the document and then you go into a meeting and you bring your whole internal team there. You start to discuss, "Oh, this is what we should do, right?" And you find out that there is rampant disagreement and you end up debating like crazy. Often this can happen because you don't have a clear view of the goals of your product and the goals of your roadmap. When you don't have that -- if things are unclear and you're not all speaking the same language -- a framework can be really helpful.

A Product Vision Based on Customer Needs

It's a step-by-step process to adopt Jobs-to-be-Done as your product framework. But ultimately, it is going to massively increase your product development efficiency because it's also going to mitigate risk. This comes from having a product vision. What should your product vision be based on? Well, of course, it should be based on what your customer wants and what they need: your customer needs to get their job done. They're hiring your product to get the job done. Your product vision has to be based on what your customer is trying to do, not what your products are trying to do. That's the first step.

The next step is to agree on what that job is. You've got to get everybody in your team to agree on what that job is. Every job has a whole series of steps and each step has a whole series of needs. Jobs are very, very complicated which is why it's incredibly important to have that be the first step. Determining what you're going to develop means prioritizing where the struggles are in those needs. And that's the next step: identifying those struggles, where the jobs are underserved, and where your competitors are weak.

It's easier for your team to pick a product strategy. This means agreeing on 2 questions: "Where should we focus?" and "What platform are we going to use to get the job done?" It's much easier to agree on your product roadmap prioritization because what you should prioritize is what your customer struggles with. We always shorthand this and joke that product teams actually shouldn't prioritize their roadmaps. Your customers should prioritize your roadmap. The things your customers are struggling with are what you should focus on.

Problem-Based Roadmaps

For decades, there have been product managers talking about problem-based roadmaps. It seems like once every five years or so, we see certain blog posts really take off because of this. And it's always a product manager positing that there should be a problem-based roadmap, that instead of having a list of features, you should just have a list of problems and the stakeholders should get excited about the problems you as a team will solve. Once you determine what those problems are, then the team can go away and investigate the technologies that could be best put to use to solve that problem. They can investigate the cost of implementing them and they can create the priority order of features that they're going to launch that will solve that problem. But the rubber meets the road in how you define a "problem."

customer problem product roadmap framework

Whose problem should you solve? First of all, should you be solving your problems as businesses? Or should you be solving the customer's problem? Secondly, what level of abstraction makes sense for problem solving? Is it a problem like a customer can't find a particular button on your page? Or, do you want to solve the problems that they have independent of your product -- the problems that they have whether you launch into the market or not? Jobs-to-be-Done can help you focus on that. But how?

How Does JTBD Help?

The first step, of course, as we mentioned, is figuring out what the job is. Then, you figure out all the steps to the needs. That's going to give you a much better definition of a customer problem. A customer problem is a goal your customers need to achieve independent of any products or solutions. That's the key. There are plenty of examples of this throughout history: no one wants Apple or Google Maps, they want to get to a destination on time; no one wants a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole; no one wants a swaddle blanket, they want to get a baby to sleep through the night; no one wants a stent, they want to restore artery blood flow, etc, etc.

You need to identify the problems that work at the level of abstraction that you have a risk-mitigated way of solving. What do we mean by risk mitigated? It means you can launch a solution at a cost and a time that allows you to hit your growth goals. So let's say you need to hit a certain growth number, by a certain date, in order to generate the revenue you need to survive as a company. If you have a product idea that will launch three months after that, your company will probably go out of business before you launch it.

When we talk about mitigating risk, it's the risk that you have the wrong idea. It's the risk that the idea will cost too much or take too long to build such that you can't launch it in time to have the right impact on your business. If you have an idea to get a baby to sleep through the night and that's it, and you think you can just make that faster, more accurate, and you can bring that to market at the time your company needs, then go for long as you know it's going to do that better than competitors. But most teams don't have that kind of runway. They can't solve problems that are quite that big and only wait until they solve it to launch.

We recommend you break the problem down into smaller components so you can solve more discrete things. This is where the Jobs-to-be-Done framework can come in handy; it helps you figure out what those more discrete risk-mitigating problems are. For example, to get a baby to sleep through the night, you might need to figure out how much you need to feed the baby before bed. That's a much smaller problem than the whole problem of getting a baby to sleep through the night. It's what we would call a "customer need." If that customer need is unsatisfied, then that's an opportunity for you to get people to switch to using your product if you can demonstrate that you can help them figure out that problem faster and more accurately than the competitors' solutions.

Not only do you need to figure out how big your features are, but you have to figure out how big the problems are that you're going after, and that's a tremendous help in determining what to prioritize in your short, medium and long term.

Posted by Jay Haynes in ROADMAP PLANNING, jobs to be done, product roadmap , 0 comments

3 Tips for Adopting the Product Management Frameworks

product roadmap framework building analogy

Product Management frameworks are exciting to learn and frustrating to implement. As a product manager myself and a framework teacher, I totally understand the appeal. Being a product manager is a messy job. You’re constantly trying to explain to your peers what you do. You didn’t go to school for it. And every day you have to motivate really smart people who don’t report to you to align with your vision and decisions. In the least, frameworks provide a comforting structure. At best, they align and focus your team, leading to operational rhythm and achieving your goals much faster than you anticipated.

As a Jobs-to-be-Done trainer and consultant, I’m obviously a huge fan of frameworks. In the past few years of helping dozens of large and small companies with Jobs-to-be-Done, I’ve repeatedly seen the enthusiasm of learning something new followed by the struggle to implement the lessons. Those who overcome the struggle reap the rewards.

The phenomenon is not unique to Jobs-to-be-Done. Here’s a pattern you have likely experienced with any framework:

  • Hype: Your team reads some articles or even a book about a framework and gets amped about using it to fix broken processes, operations, decision-making, etc. and hit the targets you’ve been missing.
  • Thrill of Education: You bring in expert trainers to teach the framework to your team. The session is one or more days, and your team happily attends. They believe this new framework has great promise, the training will be a nice change of pace, and you ordered great food. At the end of the workshop, momentum is at its peak. The trainers were inspiring, and the team is excited yet a little intimidated about putting the framework into practice.
  • Cannon Shot: The day after training you and your colleagues are shot out of a cannon. You spend the morning unburying yourself from the emails you didn’t answer while you were in all-day sessions. You look on everyone’s calendars to find time for the “Framework Implementation Meeting.” The next available slot is in two weeks. (While you were in the session the rest of the company slammed you with meeting requests). While you wait for the follow-up meeting, your team falls back into its operational patterns. That’s ok, you think, they need to finish their current projects, and there’s a bunch of research to do before we can really use this framework. The follow-up meeting can wait.
  • Land of the Forgotten: This is where your dreams of fixing your broken processes fade. Your follow-up meeting got rescheduled. Finance told you to wait for next quarter to get budget for the research. Half of your resources are working on tech debt. Growth has slowed so much there are whispers of re-org--definitely not a good time to start something new. Your team, your work, your company, and your career remain on the descending path they were on before you learned about the framework.

Don’t let this happen to you. I’ve learned from experience so you don’t have to. Here are three tips to implementing frameworks. Break the pattern and use frameworks to improve your team and achieve your goals.

1. Don’t Add, Change

Frameworks can be extremely powerful, but they cannot add hours to a day. Not only is it unrealistic to ask a maxed-out employee to add something to their plate without taking something off, it’s demoralizing. We’ve all been on the wrong end of that equation, and as a product manager, you’ve already learned this lesson from your engineering team.

Engineers can only handle a finite number of story points in a sprint. If you want to prioritize a new item, you have to de-prioritize something else.

The same is true for Product Managers. You are not superhuman.

To help your team adopt a new framework and the work that goes with it, change their responsibilities.

Change their metrics of success. Change the way they write specs and user stories. Change the meeting schedule. Change the deployment schedule. Change your criteria for decision-making. Change the process for decision-making. Change one of these things, all of these things, or a new thing not listed here, but change something.

Presumably, the reason you got excited about the framework in the first place is that something wasn’t going right on your team and you thought the framework could fix it. Articulate that something. Isolate it. Before you introduce the new framework, offer it to your team as the candidate for change and tell the team, “I expect the framework to replace this thing we do today.” If you do it right, adding the framework decreases the work.

2. Use The Framework Right Now; Waiting Is a Slow Death

The training session ends, everyone is excited, and they think, “I’m really looking forward to spinning up a new project that will be right for this, but I have to finish my current project first.”

Two weeks alarm! Your team interrupts their current project to put out the fire. It takes another two weeks to clear the smoke. Now, they’re back on the project. At lunch one day, someone remembers, “Weren’t we going to adopt that framework?” “What would be a good project for that?” “We should talk about that when I’m back from vacation.” You get back from vacation to 500 emails. The framework is forgotten.

Waiting to implement a new framework will kill it.

Meanwhile, you continue with your old processes, decision-making, and operations that you thought were so broken that you needed a new framework. And every day you do that, you are spending money on development that isn’t achieving your company goals because they were chosen under the old, broken decision-making rubric. Your budget dwindles and you tighten your belts, “We can’t implement something new now; we’re in crisis!”

Here are two ways to avoid this death spiral:

  • Come up with a project (or multiple projects) that will use the framework before you train your team in it.
  • Don’t wait for a special project. Insert the framework into whatever your team is doing today even if you can only make incremental improvements, which brings us to tip number three.

3. Perfect is The Enemy of The Better

Often when you learn a framework, you learn it from an expert who has spent years using, advancing, and teaching it. The framework is full of new terms with very precise definitions. There are specific research, analysis, and decision-making techniques. There are wrong ways of doing things with seemingly disastrous consequences. Leading practitioners have long-standing arguments about the right way to do things. The experience can be intimidating, like you’re walking on a minefield. One wrong step and BOOM.

It can make you feel like using the framework requires perfection and a tremendous amount of work. You can’t use human-centered design without observing your customer in their natural setting. You can’t be Lean without lighting your road maps on fire, allocating all of your engineering resources to instrumenting every pixel of your application to measure user behavior, and hiring a coach for every team. You can’t use Jobs-to-be-Done without doing dozens of user interviews, running lengthy surveys, and executing a detailed analysis of every competitive feature against every customer need.

All of the above activities are valuable and help you mitigate the risk of investing in the wrong product ideas but none of them are necessary to get started with a framework.
You can use a framework before executing all of the research, training everyone in your organization, and building out the infrastructure to support it. Remember, the framework was appealing in the first place because something about your current work habits was broken and you were not realizing your aspirations. Even if you start with a small piece of the framework, even just the way of thinking, it will be better than what you were doing before. Start with that while you invest in full implementation.

For example, if you’re implementing Jobs-to-be-Done, before you do all the research, create a hypothesis about the job your customer is hiring your product to do. Make sure it doesn’t include a solution. Then pick a feature your team is *currently* working on (don’t wait for a new one, see above). Ask, “How would this help our customers get the job done? Which struggle with the job does it help our customers overcome? Does it satisfy that need faster and more accurately than their current solution?” Then refine the feature based on these answers to try and satisfy the need better than the competitive solutions.

Because you didn’t do your customer interviews yet, maybe your job will not be at the perfect level of abstraction or you’ll articulate it in a way that’s not exactly in the customer’s language. Maybe the need you identified is not the *most* unmet need because you haven’t done your survey yet. Perhaps you’ll miss an element of the existing solution that makes your speed assessment a bit off. But at least you’ll have a justification for developing the feature that is clearly connected to a customer problem, builds your team’s customer empathy, aligns your team with the customer’s goal and a clear goal for your feature, and potentially leads you to refine your feature and increase your likelihood of success with it. Those are a lot of benefits even though you are still far from implementing the framework perfectly.

In parallel, you can do all the work related to getting the full value of your framework, but don’t wait for that. In the meantime, your team can perform much better than they do today.

Posted by Jared Ranere in ROADMAP PLANNING , 1 comment

How Google Sheets Took Share From Excel Using Competitive Positioning


By definition, most product, marketing and sales people don’t work at market leading companies. In order to build a business, we need to get people to switch from using some other product or get them to add our product to their solution set. We know this goal is achievable because we’ve heard great product success stories: Salesforce beats Siebel Systems, Spotify overtakes Pandora, and, one of my favorites, Google Sheets vs Microsoft Excel. 

In this post, we’ll use Jobs-to-be-Done to understand how Sheets’ competitive position made it clear to customers when they should switch and why, and in the process took share from Excel. Through this story, you’ll learn how JTBD can help you define a differentiated competitive position that leads to growth.

But first, what does competitive positioning mean?

Identify Competitive Positioning

Competitive positioning is how you differentiate yourself from competitors so that your customers will know when and why to choose your product over your competitors.

In his 1985 book, Competitive Strategy, Harvard Business School professor, Michael Porter, identifies 4 different competitive positions that can be used to achieve a competitive advantage. The basic idea is that you can use your advantage on costs to target the broad market or a niche market, or you can use your product differentiation to target the broad market or a niche market.





  1. Cost Leadership Position - Target the broad market with lower costs than your competitors. Either maintain a high price and generate higher margins or lower your prices and take more market share. 

  2. Cost Focus Position - Focus on a narrow or niche market with a low cost product.

  3. Differentiation Leadership Position - Satisfy needs with your product differently than your competitors in the broad market.

  4. Differentiation Focus Position - Satisfy needs with your product differently than your competitors in a narrow or niche market.

What was Google Sheets' Competitive Position Within This Rubric? 

The Google Blog post announcing Google Sheets in 2006 is titled, “It’s Nice to Share.” It talks about how Google wants to help people “quickly and easily share information in real time,” and closes with:

So don’t be surprised if you are soon invited by someone to share a spreadsheet. (We're rolling this out as a limited test.) Your kid's sports coach, your aunt in Omaha trying to organize a major family reunion, your friend who promised to compile a list of all your favorite hiking trails (and now wants you to help), or your project team which now has a way to keep tasks and status in one place for all to see.

In the official product announcement, Google highlights the drawbacks of traditional spreadsheet software, “Ever found yourself trading email attachments with several colleagues, trying to collaborate on a document, only to have someone chime in at the last moment with corrections to an outdated version?” They then explain that on Google Sheets & Docs, users can “easily collaborate with others, online and in real time.”

When it launched, Google Sheets was free. Excel, of course, could only be used by people who purchased a Microsoft Office license.

From this messaging, we can see that Google targeted a broad market (the variety of customers mentioned in the blog post) with lower costs (free). But, they also differentiated their product. They used a combination of Porter’s Cost Leadership and Differentiation Leadership positioning strategies to win. 

If you were Google’s product team, how would you maintain confidence in this positioning strategy when publications like MIT Technology Review are writing, “Leading technology bloggers’ reactions to Google Spreadsheets… have ranged from lukewarm to hostile.”

How do you determine the positioning strategy and marketing strategy that will win, on what dimensions to differentiate your product, and what features to focus on during the next product offer to avoid getting caught in the dreaded feature catch-up trap with your leading competitor?

And let’s assume you don’t have unlimited funds like Google so your answer can’t be, “Hire the smartest people in the world, pay them enormous salaries, hope for the best, and if they don’t succeed no big deal because we still have AdWords.”

This is where Jobs-to-be-Done can be a huge help in mitigating the risk of choosing the wrong competitive position and helping your team stay confident that they are on the right path.

In JTBD, your competitor position is defined by answering the following questions:

  1. What customer will you target?

  2. What Job will you target?

  3. What Job Steps will you target?

  4. What product platform will you choose to satisfy unmet needs in the job steps differently from your competitors?

These questions put the focus on the “Differentiation” half of Michael Porter’s quadrant. Once you answer those questions, you can then set your price based on the customer’s willingness to pay to get the job done, the cost of developing your solution, and your target profit margin. 

You can conduct market research to answer these questions. The research gives you insights that help you stay confident in your position decision and your product roadmap even when you will never catch up to the feature set of the incumbent.

Here's how it works: 

  • Define your customer

    In JTBD, your key customer is the Job Beneficiary--the person who benefits from the job getting done. Google made an explicit choice to target consumers and general information workers as opposed to the financial analyst professionals that were Excel’s power users. This is the first way in which they differentiated their position from Excel--a different customer choice.

  • Choose jobs to target

    A job is the goal your customer is trying to achieve independent of any solution. The fact that people want to achieve these goals is the reason why markets exist. In Jobs Theory we define a market as a group of people trying to get a job done as opposed to a group of people who purchase a particular product. Since products change over time but jobs do not, this market definition gives product teams a stable target. As technology changes they are still trying to help customers achieve the same goal and can think through how the new technology will get the job done better as opposed to feeling like the market for their product has disappeared.

    The key is to choose jobs that people struggle with and which have a market size large enough to achieve your revenue goals. The market size is calculated from the willingness to pay to get the job done and the number of people who want to get it done. Here, Google made another distinct choice, targeting jobs like, “organize an event” and “get projects done with a team.” The biggest insight into their strategy is the fact that there are no jobs along the lines of “make a complex financial decision,” which is a major focus of Excel and the complex feature set that power users such as financial analysts use. To feel confident in this choice, you can conduct research to find out how many people need to get the jobs done, how much they are willing to pay for it, and how difficult it is for them to get the job done. Google chose jobs that very many people are willing to pay a little bit to do (still a large market).

    When you look at the job steps you can see the struggle for the customers Google chose is of a very different nature from the struggle of financial analysts.

  • Choose job steps to target

    Job Steps tell the story of what a customer needs to do to get a job done. You can interview customers to determine the job steps.

    Here’s a hypothesis of the steps in “get projects done with a team”:

    1. Define the goal of the project

    2. Identify the tasks

    3. Figure out assignments and timing

    4. Execute the tasks

    5. Assess progress

    6. Adjust assignments and timing

    7. Deliver the project

If we were to conduct interviews, we’d likely find that this job is considerably more complex with more steps. But for the sake of this post, we want to see how different this job is from “make a complex financial decision.” Here are some of the steps in the financial decision job:

    1. Define the outcome of the decision

    2. Collect financial data relevant to the decision

    3. Analyze the data

    4. Build models for forecasting

    5. Assess the outcomes of each decision

    6. Choose the decision that leads to the optimal outcome

    7. Provide evidence for the decision

    8. Gain agreement with stakeholders

Once you break down the steps, you can see how focusing on different jobs leads to prioritizing extremely different feature sets. To help people complete projects, Google’s feature set related to sharing and collaborating helped with the steps: “identify the tasks,” “figure out assignments and timing,” and “assess progress.” Excel’s feature set helps with “analyze the data,” “build models for forecasting,” “assess the outcomes,” “choose the decision,” and “provide evidence.”  

To feel confident in this decision you can run surveys to determine how difficult each job step is for customers trying to get that job done. If a step is difficult for a customer segment whose market size is large enough, you know your position will work even if it means de-prioritizing features that are traditionally viewed as important to your product.

The target job steps lead to the platform choice.

  • Choose a platform to satisfy needs differently.

    When you have job steps in focus, it’s clearer why Google chose to prioritize sharing and collaboration features, which led to the decision to build their spreadsheets on the web rather than as a desktop application running locally. Excel needed to do complex computations quickly to help with the target job steps in the financial decision job. Desktop applications were better at running those computations than the web. And of course, Excel is a legacy product architected before the web. By choosing a different platform Google could satisfy the unmet needs better for their target customers and their jobs (e.g. get projects done with a team).

By answering all of these questions differently than Microsoft, Google created a highly differentiated position for a product in a similar category, which is why they could confidently take their roadmap in a very different direction and take share from Excel with far fewer features.

When you think about how to differentiate your competitive position, figure out how you answer the key questions differently from your competition, collect qualitative and quantitative data about market size and customer struggle to build confidence in your position, and then keep your product and marketing teams focused on making strong decisions that align with the strategy.

Posted by Jared Ranere in jobs to be done, competitive positioning , 0 comments

Stop the Boring Marketing Messages with JTBD Targeted Messaging

send targeted messages to target audience

What is targeted messaging? Why is it important to your product, marketing and sales teams? How do you use jobs-to-be-done to deliver effective targeted messages?

Companies frequently make the mistake of creating messages about their product’s features or technologies. For example, software companies love to message about their artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms. Messaging to technologies or features is a mistake. Why? Because your customers don't care about your product or your technology. They care about what the technology or features can do for them. Do you think your customers really care about your machine learning algorithms? Trust me, they absolutely do not. No one wakes up in the morning and says “Gee, I wish I had a machine learning algorithm today.” This isn’t a human goal.

“Our machine learning algorithms are the most advanced in the world!” is an absolutely terrible marketing message. Who cares about this? No one.

Uncovering Unmet Customer Needs

What your customers care about is how does any new technology or feature help them get their job done (i.e. achieve their goal) faster, more accurately, and with less effort than the current competitive solutions in the market. In other words, your customers care if your product satisfies their unmet needs. If your machine learning algorithm does that, then great! Your targeted messages should explain how it does that, not what your technology is.

Generating your targeted messaging involves uncovering unmet customer needs in your customers’ job. The jobs-to-be-done framework shows that every JTBD is a goal that has steps that a customer has to take to get the job done. And each step has variables and actions (customer needs) that your customer has to take to get a job step done. (For more on identifying job steps and your customer’s needs, check out our YouTube channel.)

For example, in getting to a destination on time, one of the job steps it to plan the stops and one of the customer needs is to determine the optimal sequence of stops. If this is an unmet need (which you can determine with a quantitative survey), then your messages should target this need.

Transforming Negative Emotions

Your messages should also explain how you are transforming your customers’ emotions -- particularly their negative emotions -- into positive feelings when they have to get a functional job done. For example, if determining the optimal sequence of stops is an unmet customer need and feeling anxious about being late is a negative emotion, then your messages should explain how your machine learning algorithms satisfy this need and transform your customer’s negative emotions (like anxiety) into positive feelings (like confidence).

Here is an example message using an unmet need: “Our machine learning algorithms automatically arrange your busy day in the optimal order to keep you on time, confident and relaxed.” See the difference? Ideally you wouldn’t even mention your “machine learning algorithms” at all.

Wherever you distribute your messages -- via Google Ads, social media, and/or personalized emails -- they should convey your intent to help your customers get the functional job done and overcome the anxiety, worries and concerns associated with executing their job.

This is how you can build a personalized experience that will resonate with your customers. They'll understand what your product is doing for them, regardless of the technologies or features in your product.

Who Are Your Customers?

What do your customers value, either in their personal or professional lives? Start by identifying your customers. Are you targeting consumers like parents, or single people? Retirees, or travelers and vacationers? Or, are you targeting businesses? What part of the business are you targeting? Are you focused on the financial executives, operations or human resources? You can be even more specific by targeting certain industries, such as aviation, travel and leisure, finance or automotive. If you’re in a medical market, who are you targeting? For instance, you could be going after patients with certain conditions, surgeons, nurses or hospital administrators.

Once you understand who your customer is -- and you realize your customers are real people with real goals they are trying to achieve -- then you can begin to segment your market. Parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night. Diabetic patients need to obtain a blood sample. Aviation directors need to ensure their aircraft are air-worthy. Understanding your customer and their job will help you identify all the different needs in that job. The customers’ needs are the variables that a customer should know about in order to get the job done.

Let's return to the example job of “getting to a destination on time,” and the unmet need of determining the optimal sequence of stops on their route. You can see why this is an unmet need because if you're a busy person and you have multiple stops throughout the day, you’ll want to follow the optimal sequence of stops to make sure you're going to be on time. If you're not going to be on time to an important work meeting, that creates anxiety.

google maps decision maker

In this case, a targeted message would explain that your new solution can automatically sync with a user's calendar, ensuring their meetings and appointments are in the right order and helping to keep them on time. If they're not going to be on time because of traffic, construction or some other delay, then your product would notify them of this. A goal of your message should be to help them overcome their anxiety about being late and make them more confident they're going to be on time.

If it takes too much effort for them to satisfy these needs, then you’ll know the need is unmet. Make sure your targeted messages explicitly explain how you satisfy the unmet need. To learn more about using JTBD to create targeting messaging for your customers, contact thrv today and try our free online course.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done , 0 comments

How Would You Beat Facebook?

how would you beat facebook

How can you use Jobs-to-be-Done innovation methods to beat your competitors? In this next installment of “How Would You Beat?” we explain how to define markets using JTBD, which is the critical first step in figuring out how to beat a competitor like Facebook. Your customer's job-to-be-done is your market. We’ll discuss innovation theory, show you how to define your customer's job-to-be-done, and explain the methods so you can put the theory into practice at your company.

Beating Facebook with JTBD Innovation Methods

Facebook's 2004 origin and rise to power is well-documented and steeped in controversy. By 2008, they had created their iOS app, introduced Facebook chat, and overtook MySpace, the original social media giant. Facebook’s market cap today is $800 Billion. Over 1.5 billion people use Facebook every day. They own 4 of the top 10-20 most used mobile apps. How can you beat them? The obvious answer seems to be “build a better social network.” However, this is an oversimplification. As we’ve seen with Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, Instagram and a host of other competing social networks, if Facebook senses competition they will come after you. If they can’t buy you outright, they will simply copy the best features of your product (think FourSquare’s location check-in feature, or Snapchat’s Stories).

The first step to beating Facebook using JTBD innovation methods is figuring out what market Facebook is actually in. According to Jobs Theory, customers don’t want your product, they want to get a job done. What are the goals people are using Facebook to accomplish? What problems does Facebook help them solve? Those are the markets that likely won’t change much over time. Facebook helps people get the job “stay informed” done much better than other competing solutions.

Facebook’s Two-Sided Market

As Clay Christensen said in his book “Competing Against Luck,” Facebook is competing with a cigarette break. Companies compete with more than just a product that directly looks like them. The underlying job of both a cigarette break and checking Facebook is “change my mental state.” In both cases, you’re doing it to relax or de-stress.

Facebook is in a two-sided market. The first market is the users they target through the social network product they’re selling. The second market is helping advertisers sell advertising. Almost all of their revenue, profitability and market cap comes from helping advertisers sell advertising. This means, when competing with Facebook, you can compete on either the user side of the market or the advertising side of the market.

On the user side, is there something you can do to help customers change their mental state better? If so, what is the business model for that solution? On the advertising side, can you help advertisers acquire customers more effectively than they can on Facebook? These are both great ways to cause problems for Facebook.

Which Jobs Do You Focus On?

The next key question: Which job do you focus on to make this work? How you describe the job is critically important. What are the unmet needs in the job and who are the people who really struggle with these unmet needs? Answering those two questions will help you segment your market more intelligently. segment your market

So, how can you beat Facebook? Using JTBD theory, a smart approach would be getting your foot in the door by targeting a more specific segment in your market. This will help you grow your platform over time and allow you to eventually target more jobs and more customers, as opposed to trying to target everyone like Facebook does. If you define your product based on your market -- or, worse yet, your competitors’ market -- you’re almost always going to fail. To beat Facebook, the first step is defining the market from the point of view of the customers you’re trying to target. What jobs are they trying to get done?

Check Out the Podcast!

You can listen to this episode of our “How Would You Beat?” podcast on Spotify, Apple, and YouTube. We will be posting more videos to help you use JTBD at your company. If you enjoy this video, please share it and like it on YouTube.

Don’t play feature catchup. Lead the innovation with JTBD. Jobs Theory gets you the insights you need to think differently about your customers, your markets and your customers’ unmet needs. Contact us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done , 0 comments

The Missing Link Between Sales Capability Frameworks and Closing

sales management jobs-to-be-done

As the head of sales, you’ve likely experimented with numerous frameworks for your sales team. There’s also a good chance that you’ve grown tired of the redundant message across all of them:

  • “Challenger reps aren’t focused on what they are selling, but what the person they are speaking to is trying to accomplish.” - Challenger
  • “People buy when they perceive a discrepancy between reality and their desired results.” - Strategic Selling
  • “When we talk about needs we want to talk about them below the surface. We want needs to reflect the real pains of your buyers, consumers, users, and customers.” - NEAT Selling

Although these sales capability frameworks help create a philosophy explaining why customer needs are important, they don’t give sales teams the content or tactical direction on what the customer needs are, or how your solution satisfies them better than competitors. So what’s the missing link? How can you get your sales team to understand the customer need and use that to improve sales performance and close more deals? The answer is Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD).

Here’s an overview of how Jobs-to-be-Done helps you fill out the content in your Challenger, Strategic, or NEAT sales pitch, aligns the sales team with the product team, and allows you to accurately evaluate the performance of your team and the success of your sales capability framework throughout the sales cycle.

1. Gain Alignment on Who the Customer Really Is

In many markets, especially B2B, the distinction between the Job Beneficiary (the person who benefits from getting the job done) and the Job Executor (the person who does the work to get the job done) is critical to understanding the needs of the person you are talking to. The executor is part of the solution to getting the job done. New solutions will be developed to help the beneficiary get the job done on their own without the current executor. If your solution puts the Job Executor’s role at risk, bring up the fact that she can now allocate time to a higher-order task.

One example of a solution targeting a Job Beneficiary is cloud-based applications. They have enabled companies to reduce or eliminate specialized IT managers (Job Executors) so that non-technical employees (Job Beneficiaries) can benefit from secure data use without having to rely on IT. In medical markets, new medical devices have been developed to allow a patient to obtain a blood sample on their own without a specialized phlebotomist.

Once you have defined your target customer as the Job Beneficiary or Job Executor, you can better understand who your solution is really for, target them in your prospecting, and tailor your sales pitch.

2. Define the Ultimate Customer Goal (or Job-to-be-Done)

Connecting your product to the goal of your customer is a fast way to determine the value they want to get from your solution. Framing it as a job-to-be-done is helpful because it ensures that you focus on their goal independent of technology or a given solution.

For example, you don't want to sell AI. You want to sell how AI helps your customer achieve their goal, which has nothing to do with AI. They had this goal before AI and they will still have it when the world is hot on some new tech.

What customers want is to be understood. They want you to tell them that whatever problem they’re experiencing -- whatever goal they want to achieve -- your product is going to do what they need it to do. By getting to the heart of their goal, you’re able to have a more natural, empathic conversation during the sales call. Customers are more likely to open up and discuss their unmet needs. You are there to empathize with their struggle and provide real value.

Tip: Once you’ve discovered the job-to-be-done, share a similar success story. Focus on developing a hero (previous customer) who overcame the same struggle. Highlight how you helped them do it faster, more accurately, and worry-free. Include metrics and proof points of how you helped this customer get the job done.

3. Avoid the Feature-to-Feature Comparison Trap

When a product team strives for feature parity with a competitor, they are in the follower's position. If you've ever been on a team that is playing feature catch-up, you know it's like bailing water out of a leaky boat: every time you release a feature and think your work is done, your competition releases something new, racing ahead of you yet again. 

Microsoft thought they caught up to the iPod by including all of its features in the Zune; Apple launched the iPhone. Microsoft tried to catch up again with the Windows Phone, but playing catch-up leads to failure.

Feature-to-feature competitive analysis often fails to identify new competitive threats that can emerge from a different category of products or services. Encyclopedia Britannica thought they were competing with other collections of books and failed to realize how CD-ROMs (and eventually the Internet) could upend their business and lead to their failure.

If a customer asks if you have a particular feature, guide the conversation back to the unmet needs they have and the job they need to get done. Keep the conversation grounded in what’s most important to them, and the features will become less important.

4. Create a Successful Alignment with the Product Team

Developing a jobs-to-be-done framework for your teams is critical in not only providing your sales team with the right structure to close deals, but it also provides them with the right language to collaborate more productively with the product team.

Sales and product teams have long been on opposing forces within an organization. Sales is unsatisfied with the lack of new features they can sell and the product is unsatisfied with the lack of support and quality feedback they are getting. It’s an age-old battle that will continue as long as features stand at the center of business development, product development and selling.

However, when teams are aligned on the Job-to-be-Done, there is more clarity on what provides real value to customers. Creating a JTBD product development strategy allows for product teams to build a customer-focused roadmap, and it gives sales teams a more guided framework on how to sell the product. Instead of going back and forth on customer demands and new features, sales teams using JTBD will be able to validate the job, and product teams will have more data that falls in line with their roadmap.

Evaluating Your Sales Capability Framework

Now that you know what to include in your sales pitch and how to align your teams, how can you track the progress and measure the success of the JTBD sales capability framework? Obviously there are the financial and conversion-based performance metrics like monthly sales growth, lead conversion rate, customer acquisition cost, and average profit margin, but there are other indicators to track that are just as important. Start by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • What role is the marketing team playing in helping your sales people?  What about the leadership team? Is there much collaboration going on? 
  • What kinds of tools or software are your sales teams using? commercial capability busy salesman
  • Have members of your sales team taken jobs-to-be-done training courses? Do you even offer training courses? If so, how did they perform during these courses? Is there any correlation between their course performance and their field performance? If you're looking for ways to be more innovative with your sales training, consider setting up an innovation training program first. Check out Playing Lean's guide to get ideas for building a sales curriculum, find good training examples and keep your students engaged.
  • How are you measuring customer satisfaction? Do you have a customer satisfaction baseline to compare results to? Are customers getting their job(s) done?
  • Do your key performance indicators (KPIs) differ for each sales role? A sales director will have different metrics than a sales rep.
  • What industry are you in and do your KPIs, sales competencies and metrics reflect that industry?

JTBD is not a strategy reserved solely for product teams. Implementing JTBD across sales, product, and marketing teams allows your entire organization to develop a cohesive language that is customer-focused and memorable. If you want to learn more about how to train your teams on JTBD, contact us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, sales , 0 comments

How to Achieve Team Alignment Using Jobs-to-be-Done

team success organizational alignment

Let's just say it: working with a terrible team sucks. It really sucks. Whether it’s your leadership team, your colleagues or your peers, working with a team that sucks, absolutely sucks. It’s even worse when your team doesn’t know what they’re supposed to be focused on. This is called team misalignment and it is especially terrible for product teams. Your team needs to work together on a product roadmap and a product strategy that will help you succeed and beat your competition. When your teams aren’t working together, that can kill your company.

Why is team alignment so difficult to achieve? Well, humans don't really know what to focus on. How do you get your team focused so they start working well together?

Align Your Team by Focusing on Your Customer

Teams have all sorts of issues. They have issues with customers, they have issues with competitors, they have issues with each other, they have issues at home that they bring to work. It can be incredibly confusing. The solution is pretty simple though. Focus on your customers.

This is what your team should be doing: figuring out how to satisfy your customers and do it way better than your competitors. Again, without any sort of agreement amongst your team members on what you're supposed to focus on, this can be incredibly difficult. Enter: jobs-to-be-done (JTBD). JTBD is a better way to get organizational alignment and team agreement. How does this work? The key concept in jobs-to-be-done is that your customers are actually not buying your product. They're hiring your product to get a job done. Think about this for a minute.

Your customers do not care about your product at all. They're humans. They want to get back to their lives. They want to be with their families and their friends. They have goals to achieve in their work lives and they have goals to achieve in their personal lives. These goals are called jobs-to-done. Your customers don't want to spend time using your product. What they want to do is get their job done and get back to their lives.

This is how you can start to align your team (and get them to stay aligned). First, focus on what it is that your customers are trying to do. Are they a consumer? Are they a parent? Are they a retiree? Are they young adults starting their career? Are they trying to change careers? Do they have health problems? Is it a business? Are you focusing on the finance department, operations, product teams, marketing teams, sales teams, executives…? There are lots of different approaches to markets, but you have to know who your customer is and what their job-to-be-done is.

For example, consumers need to get to destinations on time, parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night, patients need to obtain a blood sample, CFOs need to optimize cash flow, salespeople need to acquire customers, etc. The key insight is that your customer’s job-to-be-done is independent of your product. So the market you are in is not your product, it is your customers JTBD.

Job Steps and Customer Needs

Once you have identified and defined your customer and their job, you can start to break that job down into a series of steps and customer needs. This is key. You can understand all of your customer's needs, independent of any product or service. In trying to determine what your customers' needs are, jobs-to-be-done is extremely useful, and it's been proven to work exceptionally well because the needs in your customers’ job are independent of any solutions.

For example, no one wants Apple or Google Maps; they want to get to a destination on time. If your team was trying to beat Apple and Google Maps and your business goal was to generate more revenue, you would want to start by analyzing the job of getting to a destination on time. This job, like all jobs, has steps, and steps follow a pattern. You can think of job steps as a basic explanation of what your customer has to go through to achieve their goal. To get to a destination on time, consumers have to do things like estimate the departure time, plan the stops, travel to the destination, assess if they're going to get to the destination on time along the way, reset the route if necessary (if there's some sort of delay, for example), and then conclude the job by parking the car and walking to the destination. Every job follows this pattern of job steps. 

frustrated driver during a job step

Job steps are complex, but you can break them down into a series of variables. If, for example, consumers are trying to plan the stops throughout their busy day, they need to know a bunch of variables, including the optimal sequence of stops, as well as the route to take to each stop. Then, you add an action your customer has to take with the variable because -- remember -- they're trying to get the job done. It turns out, there are about 100 customer needs for every job. That means it’s critical you use the customers’ needs to have a structured conversation during a strategic planning session with your team that will help you decide how to focus and where to focus.

Once you have all these needs, you can survey your customers to figure out where they struggle. This is what will get your team working together and aligning towards your customer to achieve team success. Here is the process:

  1. Get your team to agree on who your customer is.
  2. Get your team to agree on what your customer’s JTBD is.
  3. Get your team to agree on the job steps and needs.
  4. Get objective survey data to identify where your customers’ struggle.
  5. Use the survey data to build your product roadmap, making sure your product satisfies needs faster and more accurately than your competitors.

Even if there are jerks on your team, if you can get them to agree where your customers struggle, you are more likely to build a strong product roadmap and sell a successful product to beat your competitors. To learn more about team alignment using jobs-to-be-done, contact us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, team alignment , 0 comments

Using the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework to Define Customer Needs

creative process

Jobs-to-be-done is more than just a theory. It also provides a framework for complete product innovation that makes your customer the focal point of your product strategy. The jobs-to-be-done framework makes it easy to identify and categorize customer needs. While the jobs-to-be-done framework goes beyond the theory, both rely on the same set of principles:

  1. Define your customer without using buyer personas. You have to understand the different types of customers, and most importantly, the job beneficiary.
  2. Define your market without using your product. Your market is your customers’ job to be done.
  3. Calculate market size without relying on the product price. Your market size is your customer’s willingness to pay.
  4. Define your customers’ needs using actions and variables in the job. Don’t ask your customers what product they want.
  5. Prioritize unmet customer needs with a quantifiable survey rather than relying on industry opinions, trends or NPS scores.

To effectively satisfy your customers’ needs, the jobs-to-be-done framework can be broken down into two main components: identifying your customers and identifying the job they are trying to get done.

Step 1: Identify Your Customers

A common misconception in the product development world is that, in order to understand your customers -- and consequently, your market -- you need buyer personas. However, it’s not the persona, or the characteristics of your buyers, that makes them buy your product. They buy your product because they need to get a job done and your product is the one that gets that job done more efficiently than the competition. The job is the same regardless of the demographic groups your customers fall into.

Using the jobs-to-be-done framework, you can easily segment your market and define your customers’ needs by understanding the 3 types of customers:

  1. Job Beneficiary - This is the person who benefits from getting the job done. This is the person looking to “hire” your product or service to get their job done.
  2. Job Executor - The executor is the person or entity who will help the beneficiary get the job done.
  3. Purchase Decision Maker - This is the person who makes the final financial purchase decision.

In many markets, those 3 customers will often be the same person. In others, the beneficiary and purchaser will be the same but the executor will be different. Let’s look at a simple example.

In the case of someone who is looking to trade in their car, they would be considered the Job Beneficiary because they stand to benefit the most from getting their car traded-in. The Job Executor would be the car dealership -- the organization that executes the job of trading the car. The purchaser would also be the customer -- AKA the beneficiary -- as they are responsible for pulling the trigger on the sale of the old car and the purchase of a new one.

So what do you do once you’ve identified your customer? The next step is figuring out what type of job they’re trying to get done.

Step 2: Identify Your Customers’ Job-to-be-Done

Just as there are 3 types of customers, there are also 3 distinct jobs your customers are trying to get done. Knowing these 3 types of customer jobs-to-be-done can help with defining your market and identifying unmet customer needs.

  1. Functional - Functional jobs are the easiest to understand because they are simply the goal(s) your customer is trying to achieve. They can be measured for speed and accuracy. Innovation happenpoints of view customer struggles when the customer isn’t able to get their job done quickly or accurately enough and an opportunity in the market opens up.
  2. Emotional - An emotional job is the way your customer wants to feel, or the way they want to be perceived by others, while getting their job done. Understanding the emotional job makes the innovation process more personal by giving you insight into their struggle to get the job done.
  3. Consumption - The consumption job is what the customer has to physically do themselves to get the job done. This could mean installing new software, reading a repair manual, or performing routine machine maintenance.

In short, the functional job will define your market, while the emotional and consumption jobs will make for a better overall customer experience.

To learn more about the jobs-to-be-done framework, contact us today and try our free JTBD online course.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done , 0 comments

How to Size a Market Using JTBD

Welcome to the next lesson in our online JTBD course. You will learn how to size a market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. In this video, we will explain how to avoid lethal market sizing mistakes and how to determine market size using customer willingness-to-pay data.

We hope you will share and like the video on YouTube.


Welcome to the Market Sizing lesson in the thrv Jobs-to-be-done Innovation Course. I am Jay Haynes, the Founder & CEO of thrv.

In business, the market always wins. So, if you are on a product, marketing or sales team, it is critically important that you size your market correctly. Your potential revenue and profit growth are a direct function of your market size. In this lesson, we will show you how to size a market using jobs to be done innovation methods.

Avoiding Lethal Market Mistakes

As we saw in the previous lessons, Blackberry, Britannica and Kodak all lost billions of dollars because they defined their markets incorrectly. This lead directly to their failure. This was also an enormous lost opportunity for growth because Apple, Google and Facebook created trillions of dollars in equity value in the exact same markets.

So how do you size your markets to avoid lethal market mistakes?

Traditional market definitions are flawed because they all use a product as a key variable. Jobs Theory shows that that your target customer’s are not buying your product, they are hiring your product to get a job done. So your customers job is your true market -- your target market.

In 2006, Microsoft thought there was a huge iPod market. And this made sense using the traditional market sizing equation of product price times the number of buyers. Apple had sold 200 million iPods at an average price of $150, making this a $30 billion market using the traditional equation. This is a HUGE market even for Microsoft. With all their resources and their gigantic customer base, Microsoft launched the Zune. And it was a TOTAL failure!

Their market sizing was the fatal flaw because there is no such thing as the “iPod market.” This supposed $30 billion market is now approximately ZERO! Product-based market sizing always leads to failure because all products change over time, but your customers job-to-be-done is a stable target to hit.

How to Size a Market

To size your market, first define your critical customer as the job beneficiary. In a previous lesson, we saw how critical this is.

Then, identify your customer’s functional job, as we did in the previous lesson. Together, your job beneficiary and their functional job define your market. To size your market, you want to know what your critical customer, the job beneficiary, is willing to pay to get their job done. need curve calculating market size

With this data, you can then plot the results on what we call a Need Curve. This looks like a traditional economics demand curve of price and quantity, but we are plotting the customer’s willingness to pay and the number of customers, the job beneficiaries, in the market. The area under the Need Curve is your market size. The Need Curve enables you to identify the size of your low-cost customer segments and the size of your premium customer segments. As a result, the need curve helps you identify hidden market opportunities for greater potential sales, higher total revenue and accelerated growth.

You can use a quantitative survey as part of your market research to get willingness to pay data in consumer, business, and medical markets.  Let’s look at an example in a consumer market.

Willingness to Pay Data in Consumer Markets

As we saw before, if we were competing with Apple and Google Maps for market share and we wanted to size this market using the traditional definition, the navigation app market would be an entirely unattractive market because the leading products are free. But we know the true market in this example is not navigation apps. It is the job of getting to a destination on time.

In this example, when we surveyed customers we asked them, "At what price per month would you be willing to pay to get to your destinations on time?"

In the survey, you can ask a series of market sizing questions to calculate a range of your customer’s willingness to pay. Plot your survey data on a chart to identify the the Need Curve and calculate your market size. conducting market research with customer survey

In this market example, even with free competitors, including Apple and Google, there is a $2 billion premium customer segment that is willing to pay a premium price for a solution that helps them get the job done better.

Why do high-growth customer segments and market opportunities like this exist even when the leading products and services are free?

Because there are unmet customer needs in your market.

In the next lesson, you will learn how to identify your customer’s needs in their job. Identifying your customer’s needs is a critical step to satisfying unmet needs better than competitors in your market.

Contact us today to get our free how-to guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.


Posted by Jay Haynes in markets, market sizing , 0 comments

How to Define Your Market

Welcome to the next lesson in our online JTBD course. You will learn how to define your market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. In this video, we will explain what a market is, types of customer jobs and how these jobs work together in consumer, business and medical markets.

We hope you will share and like the video on YouTube.

Define Your Market Transcript

Welcome to the Markets lesson in the thrv Jobs-to-be-done Innovation Course. I am Jay Haynes, the Founder & CEO of thrv.

In business, the market always wins, so correctly defining your market is critical to your success.

In this lesson we will look at how to define your market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. If you are on a product, marketing or sales team, your success depends on satisfying customer needs better than competitors in your market. This bring us to the critical question for this lesson.

What Is a Market?

What market are you actually in? Traditional market definitions are fatally flawed because they all use a product as a key variable. For example, the traditional Addressable Market is traditionally defined as all the units sold in a product category times the price per unit, and the Serviceable Market is the units of a product type times the price per unit.

All of these definitions are flawed because all products change over time. If you define your market using a product - for example, the iPod Market - you are trying to hit a moving target. Product defined markets lead directly to failure.

As we saw in an earlier lesson, BlackBerry thought there was a market for keyboard devices and they lost $50 billion in equity value. Britannica thought there was a market for encyclopedias and they lost almost 100% of their sales in just 6 years. Kodak thought there was a market for film and went from $30 billion to bankruptcy. Companies fail when they define their markets based on their products. Product-focus ironically leads your team directly to failure. And today, technology enables products to change at a rapidly accelerating rate. This is why companies fail. Forty percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer exist in just 10 years because their products will be obsolete.

Jobs Theory shows that your customers are not buying your product. They are HIRING your product to get a job done. This means that your customers will fire your product when a new product helps them get their job done faster and more accurately. This is why Apple, Google and Facebook became three of the most valuable companies in history in the exact same markets as Blackberry, Britannica and Kodak.

Customers Just Want To Get Their Job Done

The core idea of defining your market based on your customer’s job-to-be-done dates back to 1960s and Professor Theodore Levitt. His famous Harvard Business article examined why industries repeatedly failed to identify new growth opportunities and competitive threats when products changed. He was famous for saying, “Customers don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

In other words, your customers don’t want your products, they want to get their job done. This concept is true in any market, including yours. For example, consumers don’t want records, CDs or iPods. I am old enough that I even owned 8-track tapes in the 1970s. how to define your market

In this market, we all fired our old products, not because we wanted to get rid of our record collections but because the job is to create a mood with music. We all switched to new products that get this job done faster and more accurately. This happens in every market because your customer’s job is your true market.

In 2006 Microsoft made the fatal mistake of thinking there was a huge iPod market. With all their enormous resources they created an iPod competitor called the Zune, which they launched right when the iPod was becoming obsolete and it sales were falling off a cliff.

Don’t make this same mistake!

Products change but your customer’s job-to-be-done is a stable target for your team to hit. This is an important concept to remember. Your market opportunity might be bigger than you think, if you define your market using your customer’s job. We will look at market sizing in the next lesson.

We have seen how you can define your market using your customer’s job with examples in consumer markets. But the idea that your customer’s are not buying your product, they are hiring your product to get a job done, is true in business markets as well.

For example, CIOs don’t want block chain or WEP, which are product technologies. They want to obtain insights from data, which is a job-to-be-done. Similarly, Salespeople don’t want CRM software, they want to acquire customers. This is their job to be done. It is their goal, independent of the products they use.

And Jobs Theory works in medical markets as well. As we saw in an earlier lesson, patients don’t want syringes, they want to obtain a blood sample to diagnose their health. This is a medical job-to-be-done. Because products always change, very soon, you will likely never have to have another needle painfully inserted into your arm to obtain a blood sample. Similarly, surgeons don’t want stents or angioplasty balloons, which are medical products They want to restore artery blood flood. This is another job-to-be-done.

You should redefine your market using your customer’s job.

Let’s look at how you can identify and define your customer’s job-to-be-done - in other words, your market. How do you even know what your customer’s job even is?

3 Types of Customer Jobs

It is important for your team to identify the three different types of customer jobs in your market.

The first type of job is the customer’s functional job. This is the main goal customers are trying to achieve independent of any products or solutions they might be using today.

The second type of jobs are emotional jobs. Customers are, of course, real people with real human emotions. Emotional jobs are personal: how customers want to feel about themselves. And social. Social jobs are how customers want to be perceived by others.

And your customer’s have consumption jobs. Consumption jobs relate to using a solution to get a functional job done. Consumption jobs include interfacing with a product, learning to use a product, purchasing it, maintaining it and repairing it.

define your market

All three types of jobs are important to analyze because helping your customer get these jobs done better than your competitors is what creates the best customer experience with your product.

Let’s look at some examples of how these jobs work together in consumer, business and medical markets.

Consumer Markets

In a consumer market, new parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night. This is a functional job. As new parents try to get a baby to sleep through the night, they feel emotions, including feeling anxious about being a good parent. Avoiding anxiety is an emotional job. And parents need to purchase solutions to get a baby to sleep through the night like swaddle blankets, bedding, and nighttime diapers.

Your goal as a product, marketing, and sales team is to satisfy unmet needs in all three types of your customer’s jobs. We will explain unmet needs in much more detail in another lesson.

Let’s look at a few more examples of function, emotion, and consumption. As we saw in a previous lesson, the JTBD in this market is to get to a destination on time. This is the functional job that defines the market. As people execute this job, they want to avoid feeling anxious about being perceived as unprofessional by being late to a meeting.

A consumption job in this market is to interface with a product while traveling. If your customer cannot easily interface with your product, they won’t be able to get their functional job done.

Business Markets

Business markets have functional, emotional and consumption jobs as well. As we saw before, salespeople need to acquire new customers. This is the functional job, the goal salespeople need to achieve. Salespeople have emotional jobs, including being perceived as valuable to their team. And they have consumption jobs including maintaining current prospect information.

Medical Markets

The function-emotion-consumption pattern works in medical markets as well. As we saw, patients need to obtain a blood sample. This is a functional job in a medical market.

Patients want to reduce their anxiety about the procedure, which is an emotional job.

And patients may have to learn-to-use a new medical device like a micro needle array. This is a consumption job related to using a product.

All three job types are important to analyze because they determine your customer’s experience with your product. But defining your customer’s functional job correctly is critical because your customer’s functional job is your market.

Let’s look at how you can identify and define your customer’s functional job.

Defining Your Customer's Functional Job

Defining your customer’s job at the right level of abstraction is critical to ensuring that the theory is useful. Companies often struggle to define what their customer’s job even is. A functional job has three elements:

First, it is a goal that your customer is trying to achieve. Remember, a job and your market is not your job, it is your customer’s job. It is your customer’s goal and the problem they need you to solve.

Second, a functional job has an action verb and an object.

And third, a job cannot contain any mention of a solution, a product, a service or a technology.

Let’s look at a consumer example.

Consumer Jobs-To-Be-Done

A consumer might say, “I need to play MP3s.” Is this a job? Is it therefore a market?

Let’s use our three criteria to find out. 

First, is this a goal? Yes, this is something consumers want to do.

Second, does it have an action verb? Yes it does - “play.”

And does the action verb have an object? Yes it does - “MP3s.” So is this a job? Is it a market?

This is not a functional job because it contains a solution: MP3s. MP3s are a product format, which makes this an unstable definition of a market. And since formats, like all technologies and products, change over time, “play MP3s” is not a good definition of a market. As we saw before, the job is to create a mood with music. This is a stable definition because people have been creating a mood with music forever.

Business Jobs-To-Be-Done

Let’s look at another example in a business market. Businesses use software to run their companies, and they need to “install software.” Is this a JTBD? Is this a market? Let’s use our tests.

Businesses do install enterprise software, so it is a goal.

It also has an action verb and an object.

However, note that “install” is a consumption job. If you could achieve a goal without installing software, would you? Of course. Not long ago, installing business software used to be a large business for service firms, but today, cloud and SaaS applications are eliminating the need to install on-premise enterprise software.

Over time, new products emerge to eliminate or reduce the need to execute consumption jobs in order to use the product. This make sense because your customers don’t buy your product to interface with it or to learn to use it or install it. They buy your product to get their functional job done. As a result, the consumption job is not your market.

In this example, what about the word “software”? Software is an object, and it is a solution, but it is also a big enough platform that it is stable, like an aircraft. We will discuss platforms in more detail in later lessons.

Medical Jobs-To-Be-Done

Finally, Let’s look at an example of a medical job-to-be-done.

In a medical market, a patient, doctor, or nurse might say they need to “Monitor blood pressure.” Is this a job, is it a market? Again, Let’s use our tests.

Is it a customer goal? Yes, patients need to monitor their blood pressure.

It also has an action verb and an object.

And it has no solution.

But why do patients want to monitor their blood pressure? Is their end goal just to monitor?

It is important to analyze the level of abstraction of any job statement. Monitoring is an example of a step in achieving a higher-level goal. While there may be an opportunity in the short-term to provide a better product that does a better job of monitoring blood pressure, monitoring is not the end goal for a patient. define market

A patient, of course, monitors their blood pressure in order to optimize their health. If you have a health condition, blood pressure can be a key input. But the goal, therefore the job, and thus the market, is to optimize health. With higher level jobs like "optimize health", you can be more specific about your market definition.

For example, a patient who has diabetes needs to optimize their health with diabetes, so this is a specific job and therefore a market based on a health condition.

Different health conditions represent different markets because they are specific goals that different patients need to achieve, independent of any products, services, drugs or therapies they may use.

Level of Abstraction

You can specify level of abstraction for many types of jobs.

For example, parents need to instill a behavior in a child. But like health conditions, there are many types of behaviors, each of which defines a specific market.

For example, parents need to instill behaviors in their children to prevent anger, to learn music, or to resolve a dispute.

When defining your customers functional job, use these three tests, and use action verbs like these to help you identify your customer’s goals. You can refer back to this list when working with your team to define your market based on your customer’s job.

How to Identify JTBD

When identifying your customer’s job, you should conduct customer interviews, and analyze research to identify your customer’s goals independent of any solutions. Apply the three rules for jobs to ensure you have a well-defined market.

Defining your market using your customer’s job is just the beginning, but it has profound implications for everything your product, marketing, and sales teams do for your company.

We hope you will share and like this video you YouTube.

In the next lesson, you will learn how to size your market using your customer's job. This is critically important, since your revenue and profits are a function of the size of your market.

Visit us at to get our free how-to guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.


Posted by Jay Haynes in markets , 0 comments

Learn How to Use JTBD

Try thrv's JTBD software and get free access to our online JTBD Course.

Try Thrv For Free