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How the Jobs-to-be-Done Vocabulary Can Align Your Team


From xkcd.com


thrv works with product teams to help them satisfy their customers' needs. Critical to this effort is alignment among the teams we work with. They need to be aligned around who their customer is, their product strategy, and, at the core of it all, the words they use to communicate with each other. What is a "product strategy"? What is a "customer need"? What's a "market"? If a team doesn't agree on the definitions of these terms or the definitions frequently change, it's very hard to gain alignment and build something that matters to customers.

Since language is so important, we work hard to keep it specific and consistent. When you and your team first embark on your Jobs-to-be-Done journey, you'll hear new terms and new definitions for old terms, and everyone needs understand them all. To help you and your team speak our language, we've created the below glossary of key JTBD terms. We'll be adding to this over time and linking to it when we use the terms in our blog posts.

Hopefully, the glossary helps your own team increase consistency with their language and avoid communication breakdowns. It may also help you translate customer feedback into actionable metrics, but if you really want to learn how to do this, reach out to us. We're happy to help.

Jobs-to-be-Done: A theory introduced by Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christensen to explain why customers buy or use products--they hire them to get a job done. Importantly, jobs enable product managers to define market from the customer's rather than the product's perspective. As a result, jobs (which are independent of any product) are stable over time.

For example, consumers have used records, cassettes, CDs, iPod, and streaming apps to execute the jobs of curating and discovering music. While products change over time, the customer's job will not.

Customer: The key customer is the person who benefits from the job getting done--the job beneficiary. This is why a market exists: because a person in either a personal or a business context struggles to achieve a goal and they look for solutions to "hire" to get the job done. The beneficiary is often different from the person who executes the job. Noting this difference is important because markets evolve to remove executors. For example, consumers benefit from 'getting to a destination on time,' a job-to-be-done. When driving themselves the consumers are both the beneficiaries and the executors. However, when using Uber or Lyft, the consumer is the beneficiary and the executor is the Uber or Lyft driver. If autonomous cars become ubiquitous, drivers (the job executors) will go away.

Functional Jobs: The most important types of jobs because they are the reason that a market exists. When we write "job" we are referring to the Functional Job. A Functional Job is the core task or goal that some person is trying to accomplish in a personal, business, or medical context. When someone has a functional job to accomplish, they look for a product or service to "hire" in order to get the job done. Check out this post for a little more info on what qualifies as a functional job.

Functional jobs begin with an action verb that describes the job. Some common job verbs include: determine, ensure, create, learn, obtain, develop, identify and optimize.

Emotional Jobs: Statements about how people want to feel about themselves or how they want to be perceived by others when they are executing a Functional Job.

Since emotions can be both positive and negative, Emotional Jobs include both how someone wants to feel and how they want to avoid feeling. For example, when consumers are selling a used car, they want to avoid feeling gullible.

Consumption Jobs: Tasks that relate to consuming and using a product or service. Consumption jobs include: install, learn-to-use, repair, maintain, interface, and dispose.

For example, if consumers hire an app to help them sell a used car (a functional job), they need to learn how to use it and to interface with it.

Job Executor: The person or entity who is doing the activities to get the job done. For example, in the job of "sell a used car" the job executor could be a consumer (an individual who owns a car and wants to sell it), a car dealership, or an auction house. In the job of "Create a mood at an occasion with music" the job executor could be a consumer, a professional DJ, a radio show host, a sync department for a tv show, etc.

Job Steps: Every functional job is a process that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Functional jobs can be broken down into different steps that fall into six main categories: define, prepare, execute, monitor, modify, and conclude.

Customer Need: An action that the customer needs to take with a variable required to get the job done successfully. Think of the variables as factors that cause the job to go well or go poorly. Because the customer wants to get the job done quickly and accurately, the action of each need must be quick and the variable must be accurate.

In order to be measurable and actionable for your product team, a customer need statement should be structured with three important elements: (i) an action, (ii) a variable, and (iii) independent of any solution.

For example, when consumers are trying to get to a destination on time and executing the step of "plan the stops," they need to determine the optimal sequence of planned stops. "Determine" is the action and "the optimal sequence" is the variable.

Importance: a measure of how important a customer need is to the customers. Importance scores are calculated using a five point scale: not important, somewhat important, important, very important, and extremely important. An importance score is a measure of the percentage of customers who say that the need is very or extremely important.

Satisfaction: a measure of how satisfied customers are that they can achieve the goal of the Customer Need. Like importance scores, satisfaction scores are calculated using a five point scale: not satisfied, somewhat satisfied, satisfied, very satisfied, and extremely satisfied. A satisfaction score is a measure of the percentage of customers who say that the need is satisfied.

Opportunity Score: A measure of the difference between importance and satisfaction for a customer need (weighted for importance). An opportunity score is calculated by the following equation: Opportunity = Importance + (Importance - Satisfaction).

Opportunity scores range from 0 to 20 for each customer need in the job. Any opportunity score of 10 or higher means that the customer need is unmet by current solutions in the market because customers rate the need as highly important by not satisfied.

Unmet Need: A Customer Need in which the action is slow and the variable is inaccurate. Customer surveys inquiring about the importance and satisfaction of the needs can verify that the customer perceives the need to be slow and inaccurate when they rate it as important and not satisfied.

Segmentation: In Jobs-to-be-Done, customers are segmented by how satisfied they are with their ability to execute the job. To identify groups of underserved customers, thrv using the opportunity scores to group customers who all have similar needs with high importance and low satisfaction, regardless of their demographics.

Competitor: Any company that has a product or service with features that satisfy customer needs in any job step in the job and manual processes that people use to get the job done, even if they are not associated with a business. Often companies think of their competitors as those companies who offer similar products. In Jobs-to-be-Done a competitor is any company who is helping a customer get the job done, even if they only help get a few steps in the job done.

Competitor Feature: Any part of a competitor's product or service that helps a customer satisfy a need in the job-to-be-done or an activity within a manual process that a person executes in order to satisfy a need.

Competitive Analysis: An assessment of how well the customer can get the job done with the competitor's solution. The assessment is a collection of measurements of the speed and accuracy with which a customer can satisfy needs with the competition's features.

Idea Generation: The act of thinking up features that will satisfy unmet customer needs faster and more accurately than the competition.

Jay Haynes

Posted by Jay Haynes


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