What are these 'Jobs-To-Be-Done' you speak of?

Clayton Christensen often uses a  story about milkshakes  to teach the basic concept of Jobs

Clayton Christensen often uses a story about milkshakes to teach the basic concept of Jobs


According to Clayton Christensen (who came up with this framework) and his colleagues, a “ ‘Job’ is shorthand for what an individual really seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance.” (link) Since first being mentioned in Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, and being more deeply examined in a 2007 paper, the JTBD theory has become a key focus for concepting, developing and refining products of any sort. The thinking goes: if you’re not truly solving a job that the customer has, then you’re not going to sell much to them.

A ‘job’ isn’t just functional in nature, it is nuanced with many elements, including emotional ones. It shifts the focus of the product strategy from the attributes of the product to the resulting impact it has. JTBD opens up the question: what business am I really in? And it expands the competitive set to any number of possible solutions for the job, including choosing to not solve it.

Below are 4 articles that I found useful to more deeply understand a concept this morning (but definitely not exhaustive on the subject). They opened my mind not only to exactly how to define a JTBD, but also provided great frameworks for working with them.

I hope you find them as useful as I did.

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Article 1 - Know your customers' "jobs to be done" 

by Clayton M. ChristensenTaddy HallKaren Dillon & David S. Duncan




Overview from HBR and the man himself, Clayton Christensen (+3 colleagues). The article covers not only a deep definition of Jobs To Be Done (JBTDs), but how to use them to define products, customer experiences and organization processes to support. It also includes a great case study on the condo market that gives you a solid foundational understanding of what a JBTD really is.

But disruption theory doesn’t tell you how to create products and services that customers want to buy. Jobs-to-be-done theory does. It transforms our understanding of customer choice in a way that no amount of data ever could, because it gets at the causal driver behind a purchase.
— Clayton Christensen
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Article 2: Technique 1 - Jobs to be Done

From The Innovator's Toolkit by David Silverstein, Dr. Phil Samuel & Neil DeCarlo




This is actually a chapter from the book “The Innovator’s Toolkit”, by David Silverstein, Dr. Phil Samuel and Neil DeCarlo. It offers another good overview of what a JTBD is, the different elements of JTBDs (functional and emotional), and how to put the theory into action including a 5-step process, and some useful analysis tools.

If you remember anything about jobs to be done, remember this: they are completely neutral of the solutions you create (your products and services). While a customer JTBD remains fairly stable over time, your products and services should change at strategic intervals as you strive to provide ever increasing value.
— The Innovator's Toolkit
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Article 3: Replacing The User Story With The Job Story

By Alan Klement




A very useful article from Alan Klement, posted in a medium publication SPECIFICALLY dedicated to Jobs-To-Be-Done (who knew!?). In it, Alan takes the JTBD theory and applies it at the feature-level of product design, replacing the oft-used “user stories” with the concept of “job stories.” I found this eye opening for how to apply this thinking to a development process, instead of just thinking of it for new-product ideation.

Summed up, the problem with user stories is that it’s too many assumptions and doesn’t acknowledge causality. When a task is put in the format of a user story ( As a [type of user], I want [some action], so that [outcome]) there’s no room to ask ‘why’ — you’re essentially locked into a particular sequence with no context.
— Alan Klement
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Article 4: Here’s why people will or won’t use your product

By Nathan Kinch




This is another great overview of the JTBD theory, this time by Nathan Kinch. Beyond the overview, he includes two tools to help designers and strategists work with JTBDs: (1) Job Maps, which help to deconstruct the jobs customers are trying to get done; and (2) The Switch Framework, which helps understand how customers approach deciding whether they’ll switch to a different solution to the job they’re hiring for.


Products should be measured on efficacy. As a product leader, an intense focus on efficacy, starting with the customer and their job-to-be-done, gives us the best chance of continually shipping product that delivers significant, recurring value.
— Nathan Kinch

Anyway, that’s it from me this morning. I hope you enjoyed my new format (a specific focus on a topic area, instead of random articles). Not sure how feasible this kind of deeper dive will be on a daily basis, but we’ll see how I go.

Thanks for reading!

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