Jobs To Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation / Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman, and David Farber / 2016
Once you understand what jobs people are striving to do, it becomes easier to predict what products or services they will take up and which will fall flat. The Jobs to be Done framework succeeds because it focuses innovators on the right questions rather than having them jump directly to devising solutions. Breakthroughs come from reimagining problems, not from creating an incrementally better solution to a well-understood challenge. Jobs help you to focus on what really matters, rather than trying to add on cool features that muddle the customer experience and make the product less compelling.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
Customers have jobs that are both functional and emotional in nature, and companies need to design offerings that win on both levels. Focusing on particular people in specific contexts creates far richer and more useful detail than thinking about things on average. Much like the problem of adding too many features, attempting to satisfy too many jobs leaves you with a complicated, expensive, one-size-fits-none product. Focusing on Jobs to be Done, rather than on past customer purchase behavior, allows you to define a broader solution space with more opportunities for innovation.
While jobs are the tasks that customers are looking to get done in their lives, job drivers are the underlying contextual elements that make certain jobs more or less important. Job drivers come in three flavors: attitudes, background, and circumstances
customer segment—whether it consists of your customers, competitors’ customers, noncustomers, or a mix of the three—has a degree of homogeneity in what it needs and how it buys and consumes. Jobs and job drivers are critical factors for segmentation. Customers behave and make decisions differently based on their job drivers, which come in three forms. Customers’ attitudes (social or personality-based traits), background (long-term context), and circumstances (immediate or near-term factors) all cause them to prioritize their jobs differently. Jobs and job drivers combine to yield meaningful customer segments that are based on insight into the “why,” not just the “who” or “what.”
A thorough understanding of how decisions are made requires an identification of key stakeholders, what they are doing, and what bothers them about the process. The easiest way to make sure you are not missing key stakeholders is to create a process map from the customer’s perspective. Throughout your research, make sure you are asking about and/or observing each step of the process and noting the specific approaches taken by the customer, starting from the time the customer begins thinking about a job to when that job is satisfied.
Making a “better” product is the easy part of innovation. The hard part is ensuring that your new product is better for the right people in the right ways. New solutions need to account for the needs of multiple stakeholders, each of whom may have different expectations.
Making a process map—a graphical depiction of each step of the customer’s journey from deciding to buy a product to disposing of it—can help identify additional stakeholders, and it can be a good way to spot pain points that are making customers unhappy. Success criteria translate jobs into highly actionable parameters. Criteria are often impacted by customers’ attitudes, background, and circumstances. You can measure success by evaluating how well your product can satisfy key customer jobs. Additional value can be created by making trade-offs. Focus on excelling along the dimensions that matter to your target customer segments.
Just because there is a better product or a better way of doing something, it doesn’t mean that customers will embrace the new solution. Obstacles to adoption are barriers that prevent customers from buying your products in the first place.
- Lack of knowledge. One of the most fundamental reasons that customers don’t buy your product is that they don’t know they need it.
- Behavior change requirement. As we saw when we looked at current approaches and pain points, getting people to change their behavior can be difficult.
- Multiple decision makers. Even great ideas can be hindered by the need to bring many disconnected decision makers on board, some of whom may have misaligned incentives.
- High costs. Costs can be high in a number of ways.
- High risk. Customers will be reluctant to adopt a new solution if it involves a lot of risk or a high potential cost of failure.
- Unfamiliar category. Sometimes, products are so innovative that they define a new category that the customer doesn’t really understand or have a budget for.
Second set of obstacles to consider are obstacles to use. These are the reasons that customers stop using your product or service after initial adoption.
- Limited supporting infrastructure. Sometimes a product can be great on its own, but lacks value without a system to support it.
- Use creates pain points. Customers will not continue to use a product that is overly complex or difficult to use. Yet companies often insist on overloading their new products with features rather than focusing on satisfying important jobs well.
- It’s cool, not better. Many times, a new product sounds really exciting, but it ultimately doesn’t do a better job than the existing solution.
- Offering isn’t targeted. Similarly, new offerings need to be targeted to specific jobs and customer types.
Getting customers to even consider your product in the first place can often be quite the challenge, but finding ways to overcome obstacles to long-term use can be just as important a task. Without opportunities to resell to past purchasers, you may find that your business model is simply unsustainable.
The tricky thing about value is that it’s not a constant. At the same time that a new solution is creating value for the customer, the business must also determine how that same solution creates value for the organization. And both stakeholders have unique concerns.
- For the business, the first issue is how much potential exists.
- From the customer’s perspective, value relates to how expensive that solution can be.
Create a business model that allows you to sustainably capture value while simultaneously offering the customer a differentiated solution. Ask questions early that allow you to spot potential risks in your business model, especially with respect to how you’ll attract new customers, keep those customers, and ultimately grow the business.
Peter Drucker back in 1964: “The customer rarely buys what the business thinks it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a “product.” What is paid for is satisfaction.
There are three principal factors to consider in your competitive assessment:
- First, what are your relative advantages in delivering against key jobs and success criteria?
- Next, what is your relative flexibility to adjust plans?
- Finally, what will be rivals’ impact on marketplace perceptions?
All organizations—from start-ups to established businesses—need a strategy.
- The first step in creating a strategy is defining what it means to win. Often this is expressed in the form of a quantitative target
- The second step in crafting a strategy is deciding how and with whom you will win. Generally this involves making choices along three dimensions.
o On the second axis is your familiarity with the customer you’ll be serving.
o On the third axis is business model familiarity.
- The third step for honing your strategy is determining your competitive advantages. This involves identifying the strengths that allow you to expand beyond the core, as well as the assets and tactics that you can use to outperform any competitors who are already playing (or may choose to start playing) in your newly chosen arena.
- The fourth step for creating a strategy is about defeating specific and articulable challenges.A good strategy maps out the challenges you are likely to face and the uncertainties you need to resolve, articulating a plan for how risks can be reduced and how obstacles can be overcome.
- · The fifth step in crafting a strategy involves developing growth options and the capabilities to move forward. This step focuses heavily on the “how” of strategy. Leaders need to create a concrete strategy that answers specific questions—how winning is defined, which markets to target, what strengths can be leveraged, what challenges need to be overcome, and what capabilities need to be built in order to succeed.
Companies need high-level strategies so that they can organize their activities and prioritize how they spend their resources. What Big Data fails to give us is context. Big Data fails to provide crucial information about why customers make decisions and how they interact with products after they are purchased. To suggest that there’s one right research technique would be a fallacy.
In reality, there are three different groups you will want to reach, each of which can give you a different type of insight.
- The first group consists of your existing customers. Customers who already purchase your products understand what they are buying, and they can tell you what your products are particularly good or bad at.
- The second group to engage with consists of those customers currently buying competing products. Here, the goal is to learn what really makes those customers different, beyond the superficial answers that they are likely to start with.
- The final group to investigate involves those individuals who are not consuming the types of products you sell at all.
Data is a valuable thing. Without context, however, it can also be misleading, and it can prompt organizations to make ill-fated decisions. Organizations that are launching new offerings need to talk to real people and understand the “why” behind the decisions they make. While there is no single best way of gathering customer insights, the best research plans answer specific questions and reduce unnecessary risks. Primary research is a necessary component for ensuring that you understand the context in which purchasing decisions are made and for learning how products are used once they are in the hands of the end user.
While Big Data gives us lots of information about what is being purchased, it doesn’t tell us much about why products are being purchased or how those products satisfy important jobs in customers’ lives. A variety of research methods exist, and your approach should be selected based on the stage of the project, the questions you’re trying to resolve, and the resources available. Talking to different customer types—including existing customers, competitors’ customers, and nonconsumers—can reveal different types of insights. Talk to all three groups to get a holistic picture of how people choose what to buy or what not to buy.
clear up front about why you’re brainstorming, how ideas will be evaluated, Start off by getting everyone on the same page. Explain the purpose of the ideation session, discuss the boundaries of what will or will not be considered, and elaborate on how ideas will be evaluated. Give participants some time to quietly reflect and ideate on their own. Ask participants to come up with their own lists of ideas first, thus avoiding the anchoring problems just described. Give them a quota in order to encourage them to push themselves. Depending on how many people are present, break the group into small teams of people with dissimilar backgrounds to discuss and expand on these ideas, coming up with new ideas and identifying which ideas seem to have the highest potential. Have someone in the group meticulously record the details of the conversation. Once all the participants have shared their ideas, you can group similar ideas together. Once you’ve built out each idea, you’ll be able to have a more informed discussion about the merits of the ideas, rather than simply eliminating ideas based on gut reaction. Finally, as you prepare to leave your brainstorming session, be clear about what the next steps are.
Bad brainstorming is common but quite avoidable. The best ideation experiences follow an eight-step process that involves level setting, reflection and ideation, collaboration, organization, discussion, build-out, evaluation, and follow-up. Start by getting everyone on the same page about why you’re there and how ideas will be evaluated. Then provide structured questions, and encourage teams to fully build out their ideas. Looking beyond the walls of your organization helps you keep tabs on the emerging trends that are important to your customers, allowing you to stay ahead of what they’ll be asking for. While open innovation programs can be a good way to bring in new viewpoints and ideas, smaller-scale practices and policies can be just as effective. Good experiments aren’t about grandeur. They’re about timing and reliability. More important than the results of the test, though, was the process. Getting something tangible in front of customers early on in the process can be a great way to gather feedback before you’ve spent too much money going down a bad path.
People value answers over questions, so they shy away from experiments, which will necessarily have uncertain results. Experiments can be an inexpensive way to resolve major unknowns before a project is too far along. Concept tests can be a useful way to determine whether customers are interested in your new offering, but each concept needs a story that helps re-create the experience in which a customer would actually be making a decision to purchase or use the product.
BUILDING THE CAPABILITIES FOR REPEATED SUCCESS
Working with the innovation team, we decided on five pillars that would distinguish the Jobs-based innovation initiative from traditional corporate training programs
- The first was that the initiative needed to advance ongoing projects and generate immediate value without interrupting employees’ “day jobs.”
- The second requirement focused on getting senior leadership to support the methodology and encourage its use directly with clients. After exploring the benefits of Jobs-based innovation and seeing how small teams were creating direct benefits for the company’s clients, the CIO publicly endorsed the initiative and became a powerful champion for moving it forward.
- For the third pillar, the focus was on resolving a common challenge with innovation initiatives—the inevitable drop-off in enthusiasm over time. We helped address this issue by having participants join learning teams that would persist after the initial training.
- Our fourth objective was to focus on the creation of internal experts. We decided to focus on creating experts within the innovation group who would be able to provide just-in-time tools and guidance to project teams who could benefit from Jobs-based learnings.
- The fifth pillar revolved around building momentum organically.
we created a multilevel certification program that encouraged participants to continue applying what they had learned and advance through the program’s levels.
JOBS REFRESHER POINTS:
Jobs are the tasks that consumers are trying to get done in their everyday lives. Research needs to focus on uncovering consumers’ jobs, not just what they’re currently buying or what they think a good solution would look like.
Look to satisfy both functional and emotional jobs. While consumers will be looking to satisfy a number of jobs, some will be more important than others. Focus first on satisfying those “North Star” jobs. In your research, keep asking “why?” to make sure you understand the true underlying jobs.
JOB DRIVERS REFRESHER POINTS:
Job drivers are the underlying factors that make particular jobs more or less important for different types of consumers. Job drivers can be uncovered by looking at three broad categories: attitudes, background, and circumstances.
Jobs and job drivers combine to yield customer segments—groups of customers who will buy and behave in similar ways. Rather than building fully loaded, one-size-fits-none products, new offerings should be targeted to specific customer segments by focusing on the jobs that are important to those specific consumers.
CURRENT APPROACHES AND PAIN POINTS REFRESHER POINTS:
The product purchaser is just one of several stakeholders who may need to be satisfied with your new offering. Consider whether there is an end user or other key decision maker who will need to be satisfied.
Current approaches are the range of activities that collectively represent a customer’s way of doing something. Pain points—a breeding ground for innovation—are the areas of difficulty, frustration, or inefficiency along the way.
Because context can affect which jobs are in play, remember to ask about specific occasions (not just average behavior), getting as detailed as possible.
Consumers are often attached to their current approaches, so carefully consider how fast you can expect consumers to change their behavior if your solution requires such change.
SUCCESS CRITERIA REFRESHER POINTS:
Success criteria are not jobs but rather indications of whether a job has been satisfied. The success of a new product will often require homing in on particular occasions and contexts that are the most important to the customer.
To get started, try understanding what customers want more of, what they want less of, and where they’re seeking a balance. Your new solution may ultimately require making trade-offs. It’s perfectly acceptable to give up on features that matter to a limited number of customers as long as you excel along the dimensions that matter most to your targeted customer segments.
OBSTACLES REFRESHER POINTS:
Obstacles come in two forms: obstacles to adoption and obstacles to use. Obstacles to adoption are hurdles that limit a consumer’s willingness to buy an offering. Obstacles to adoption can be reduced by making it easy for people to learn about and try your new offering.
Obstacles to use are hurdles that get in the way of success, thereby limiting a customer’s likelihood of continuing to use a product, purchasing add-ons, or upgrading to newer versions. Continuously acquiring a new customer base is often too costly to be sustainable, making it important to eliminate obstacles to use so that first-time buyers become repeat buyers.
VALUE REFRESHER POINTS:
Understanding how much money is at stake with respect to a new solution requires framing markets in terms of jobs, not products.
A value-based pricing strategy that accounts for the unique or emotional jobs your offering satisfies can help you more accurately understand how expensive your solution can and should be.
In addition to thinking about the value you’re offering the customer and other key stakeholders, your solution needs to bring in value for the organization. Consider whether your model allows you to sustainably capture value.
COMPETITION REFRESHER POINTS:
Beyond your traditional or direct competitors, your offering also competes against other offerings that satisfy the same jobs.
Because consumers will look outside your product category to satisfy their jobs to be done, familiarize yourself with the entire spectrum of direct and indirect competitors, and position your products accordingly.
By applying a Jobs-based lens, your broader view can also illuminate more avenues for growth. Areas of nonconsumption—the areas in which your competitors aren’t currently playing—can offer substantial potential, but they also carry some degree of risk. Think about both traditional and nontraditional competitors in terms of your relative advantages, flexibility, and risk.