Jobs to Be Done - So that innovation and product success are no coincidence

Jobs to Be Done – So that innovation and product success are no coincidence

What does the Jobs to Be Done theory say?

The Jobs to Be Done theory states that innovation is not a matter of chance, but can be achieved through a targeted approach.

As a product owner and product manager, you can use the Jobs to Be Done mindset to set your product apart from other products and thus lead your product to success. In Clayton M. Christensen’s book – “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” the Jobs Theory is presented in detail. In this post, I’ll give you a brief summary of my learnings.
You need to change your approach to product development. If you are already familiar with Design Thinking or have worked with it, you are already on the right track. First, ask yourself the question, “Why does a person use a particular product?”
The book covers a case from a fast food restaurant. The goal was to sell more milkshakes. The fast food restaurant had already taken some approaches, but they weren’t successful. Only when you interviewed the customers and asked the question “Why are you buying a milkshake now?” were they able to understand the background. Especially in the morning, milkshakes were bought by commuters who wanted a shake to pass the time during a long drive. They thus found that a milkshake competed with other products that could also be used to pass the time during a car ride, but did not solve the problem quite as well as a milkshake. The milkshake fit perfectly in the cup holder, and you were much less likely to soil your own vehicle as you would by eating a sandwich or candy bar, for example.
Customers who came to the store in the afternoon usually had children with them. The customers showed a guilty conscience about giving the children a milkshake because it is relatively unhealthy. However, since the children specifically asked for it, they still got milkshakes from their parents.
The addition of fruit pieces achieved product optimization of the milkshakes. The product enhancement provided more variety for the commuters to consume the milkshakes and reduced the parents’ guilty conscience. This Jobs to Be Done approach increased milkshake sales.
As a product owner or product manager, you need to ask yourself the question, “Why is someone using your product?” Look at the context the user is in and analyze what problem they are solving with your product. To generate this data, you can conduct qualitative interviews among your users.

How do you find tasks as a product owner and product manager?

For many tasks there are already solutions. Most of the time, these solutions are not really tailored to the problem and therefore often do not fit exactly.

To help you identify tasks, you need to ask more questions:

  • What progress is a person trying to make?
  • Under what circumstances is the current solution taking place?
  • What obstacles are there for the person trying to make progress?
  • Is compensation behavior observed or are individuals using imperfect solutions?
  • What would be the quality of a better solution, and what compromises would a person be willing to make?

By answering these questions, the complexity of a task can be presented. In the book, Clayton Christensen gives an example of a manager who wants a product that will enable his sales team to perform their sales activities better and reduce employee turnover. By answering the questions, it was possible to identify the crucial invisible social and emotional aspects of the task in addition to its complexity. If you know all the aspects, it will be very easy for you to find a better solution to a problem.

The Jobs to Be Done Canvas

Of course, there is also a canvas for the Jobs to Be Done theory. I find the Canvas by Helge Tenno very good. The canvas helps you to map the functional, emotional and social goals of a person. You can find the Jobs to Be Done Canvas and instructions on how to fill it out here.

My conclusion on the Jobs to Be Done theory

The Jobs to Be Done theory from the book “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” can definitely help to solve a problem in a better way than the user’s current solution does. Since innovation in most cases comes from a previously unavailable combination of already existing knowledge, you should definitely incorporate Jobs Theory into your work as a product owner or product manager. Through theory, you uncover issues that you know about but haven’t previously connected to your product. In the milkshake, fruit pieces are the ideal complement, helping parents to have a clear conscience and commuters to have more variety on a long drive.

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