Identifying the “Real Jobs” To Be Done

Innovation requires perfect calibration and careful adjustments over and over again. Maybe you’ve already tried to recalibrate your innovation efforts without success. What went wrong and what can be improved? What can you do to make progress?

“Instead of asking people what products they want, talk to them about what they’re trying to achieve.”

Understanding Struggles

Focusing on our customers’ underlying motives helps us to help them clearly assess potential markets for products and services.

The idea is that, as a rule, customers are very good at identifying and articulating their struggles, but they have no idea what the solution looks like until they see it.

You need to retract the lens from a specific product or service segment to reveal the full field of possibilities. This opens the door to solutions people never would have imagined, though many of these products and services can go on to become nearly indispensable.

For example, a team at Microsoft likely used traditional methods to calculate the size of the “iPod” market at its peak. Apple had sold 200 million iPods at $150. Using traditional methods, this logically appears to be a $30 billion market.

Microsoft launched the Zune into the “iPod” market, and it failed dramatically.

The problem was that consumers didn’t want iPods any more than they wanted records, cassettes, or CDs. They wanted to get a job done. In this case, they want to create a mood with music, a goal that is independent of any solutions and nearly timeless.

The “iPod” or “MP3 player” market (like the “cassette” market and the “CD” market) rapidly approached $0. New products have emerged (smartphones, streaming apps) that get the job done better for the customer.

People Don’t Buy Products & Services. They Hire Them. They May Keep Them. They May Fire Them.

Identifying your struggle is the lynchpin of innovation and along with getting an understanding the importance of making trade-offs. 

The real “Jobs To Be Done” in your organisation are not just about functional/operational goals, it needs to tie in the social and emotional ones as well.  Your motives may be largely unspoken or unobservable, though they are still important to your purchasing decisions.

5 items to think about

  1. Identify your struggles. Determine what progress you are trying to make, and where you struggle in the process. ​​ We will look at the Forces of Progress more closely in an upcoming post.

  2. Target moments of non-consumption. Non-consumption refers to products or services that people would like to buy but can’t. This is often because products are over-engineered and either too expensive or too complicated for most people to use.

  3. Assess trade-offs. For some features, people are willing to devote more time and more money. Breaking down your behaviours into the real jobs to be done, distinct from demographics or personas, will help reveal which features are most essential and where it is wise to invest. Value is tied closely to context, when and where people desire a product or service is as important as what they value.

  4. Categorise jobs by their purpose. Jobs come before the products or services intended to solve them. Understanding the social, emotional, and functional context of a job is key to identifying the full range of options and developing the right solutions.

  5. Assess outcomes. Evaluate products and features by their ability to address the real jobs you need to be done.

More to come on how we assist our customers using this approach.

How can we help?

Talk to us about how we can help your organisation focus on the real jobs to be done. Making it real is what we do.

How can you connect with us?

We’d love to hear about your journey. Did reflecting on Jobs To Be Done help?

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About the Author

Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.

With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.