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The Jobs To Be Done Framework

Figuring out what problems you are solving can be hard. It may help to think about what “job” you are “hiring” a product to do instead.

Bruno Pešec
Bruno Pešec
3 min read
The Jobs To Be Done Framework
Jobs-to-be-done header image

Figuring out what problems you are solving can be hard. It may help to think about what “job” you are “hiring” a product to do instead. This way of thinking was first popularized by Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Solution.

Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

Clayton Christensen Institute defines it as:

"The jobs-to-be-done framework emerged as a helpful way to look at customer motivations in business settings. Conventional marketing techniques teach us to frame customers by attributes—using age ranges, race, marital status, and other categories that ultimately create products and entire categories too focused on what companies want to sell, rather than on what customers actually need.

The jobs-to-be-done framework is a tool for evaluating the circumstances that arise in customers’ lives. Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the “average” customer in their category may do—but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve. With an understanding of the “job” for which customers find themselves “hiring” a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do."

The Milk Shake Case Study

Milk Shake

In What Customers Want from Your Products Clayton Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall describe one fast-food restaurant's effort to improve sales of its milk shakes. They found out that people weren't buying or hiring milkshakes specifically because of their taste, but rather to keep themselves entertained during their morning commute. Here is a video summary of the study:

Putting Theory into Practice

Authors of The Innovator's Toolkit divide jobs-to-be-done into main and related. They are further sub-divided into functional and emotional aspects. Personal and social dimension are sub-divisions of emotional aspects. See it illustrated bellow:

Jobs-to-be-done breakdown

They have generously shared the whole chapter on jobs-to-be-done.

Based on his consulting experience with Clayton Christensen, Stephen Wunker proposes a six-step process for "a rigorous way of defining the jobs you can address":

  1. What are the high-level jobs-to-be-done?
  2. What are the current approaches and what pain points result?
  3. What benchmarks exist in the full range of competing offerings and analogies?
  4. What performance criteria do customers use?
  5. What prevents new solutions from being adopted?
  6. What value would success create for customers?

Last, but not least, Strategyn has a series of highly useful articles:

Relation to Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas and jobs-to-be-done

While applying jobs-to-be-done framework will positively influence all elements of your Lean Canvas, you will most likely experience it first during your problem and solution interviews. Ash Maurya goes into more details how jobs-to-be-done framework aligns with the Lean Canvas.

This post was originally published on Playing Lean blog.

Lean Startup

Bruno Pešec

I help business leaders innovate profitably at scale.


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