Understanding the customer does not lead to success in innovation. It stems from a thorough understanding of the task at hand for the customer. After all, the desire to complete a task drives them to purchase a product or service in the first place. This way of thinking is central to the jobs to be done theory. Because the job becomes the focal point around which the entire innovation process is executed, correctly defining the job-to-be-done is a prerequisite for predictable success in innovation.
Customer needs discovery, market sizing, and segmentation methods based on jobs depend on correctly defining the position. If the customer is not attempting to complete the actual job, a lot of time and money can be wasted, and a failed product may be launched before the error is discovered. We’ve seen many examples of jobs to be done that misapply the theory.
The first challenge businesses face when implementing this theory is determining what job the customer is attempting to complete. It is not as simple as it may appear. A few examples of jobs to be done are in order.
Clay Christensen’s research is the source of the Milkshake example. It’s about a fast-food restaurant. The company used the job framework to create milkshake recipes tailored to their customers’ needs.
They discovered that people “hired” milkshakes in the morning for an unexpected reason after conducting customer interviews.
The insight: Milkshakes were hired instead of a bagel or doughnut because they were less messy and more filling and because trying to suck a thick liquid through a thin straw entertained customers while driving during their boring commute.
The newly created value proposition: Understanding the task at hand, the company could respond by developing a morning milkshake that was thicker (to last through a long commute) and more interesting (with fruit chunks) than its predecessor.
The example is appropriate for three reasons:
The surprising reason why customers buy milkshakes for breakfast;
It demonstrates the importance of understanding customers’ jobs in a specific context;
It illustrates how jobs can be used to segment a market.
Using jobs to write a book tailored to your reader
People in the product and marketing functions have a straightforward job to do:
They may want to understand their target market at a higher level for a variety of reasons:
- A startup founder is motivated by her company’s success;
- An employee may want to share good data because he is hoping for a raise.
They may have different tasks to complete at a lower level:
- A market researcher wishes to provide his client with a clear market picture.
- A product manager is attempting to reduce churn;
- A designer must create a new app’s user interface.
- A marketer is developing a new campaign to attract new customers.
Insight: After conducting numerous customer interviews, I realised that all of these people needed to work together to analyse and segment their market and develop their product strategy.
Value proposition: The Value Mix was created to do just that. The book delves into a few tools for understanding your customers and what they want. It then describes how to develop a cohesive product strategy.
Photoshop vs. Instagram: When a new job to be done arises
The Photoshop/Instagram example is an excellent way to demonstrate the significance of jobs. Both are photo-editing applications. However, they enable users to perform two distinct tasks.
The insight: Smartphone users constantly take photos. However, not all of their pictures are of high enough quality to warrant hours of Photoshop editing.
The opportunity: Smartphone users want something that allows them to do their job (editing photos) quickly and easily.
As a result, Photoshop and Instagram are now used for two distinct purposes:
Photoshop is designed for professional photographers who want to edit high-quality images;
Instagram is designed for amateurs who wish to edit and share beautiful everyday photos.
JTBD in Retail Banking
The role of banks in our world appears to be highly complex. Indeed, banks provide a wide range of financial products, each with its own set of terms and conditions. So, how can the framework of jobs to be done assist us?
The framework allows us to return to the first principle, which is what banks do.
When you think about it, banks help us do one of four things:
- Keep my money secure (e.g., saving account)
- Transfer my funds (e.g., transfer, debit card)
- Make my money grow (e.g., ISA in the UK, IRA in the US)
- Please lend me money (e.g., student loan, credit card)
- At the most basic level, any bank can assist us in doing these things.
Companies like Wealthfront, Revolut, and TransferWise have thrived by identifying these core jobs. They’ve concentrated on a particular job and have done it suitably.
Some of the most well-known examples of Jobs To Be Done based product design or marcomms strategy come from predominantly B2C brands.
For example, late innovation expert Clayton Christensen described the jobs to be done marketing opportunity for a McDonald’s milkshake. Or consider Apple’s phenomenal iPod and iPhone-led success since the turn of the century – former SVP Philip Schiller has been quoted describing jobs to be done examples for several products.