Jobs-To-Be-Done theory as a tool to validate to your ideas

Last week I connected with another Indie Hacker @typeofgraphic and he shared with me a useful framework for describing and modelling the problem you're trying to solve and evaluating the value of your ideas in relation to that problem. It's called Jobs-To-Be-Done theory and was developed by Tony Ulwick. The core idea is intuitive -- innovation becomes much more predictable - and far more profitable - when it begins with a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done.

Here's the hypothesis

If a product team could know in advance what metrics its customers were going to use to judge a new offering, it could optimize the product to address those metrics - and predictably deliver a winning solution.

Outcome-Driven Innovation

  • Innovation is a process of finding solutions that address needs
  • Tackle needs before finding solutions

What is a customer need?

  • Solutions are always changing but a need is constant
  • Input received from the customer must remain valid over time
  • Job theory: instead of asking how to make a better solution, ask about the underlying process the customer is trying to execute
  • The underlying process remains stable over time. It can be broken into steps and you can figure metrics stakeholders use to measure success along the way
  • Those metrics are called desired outcomes. These are the metrics stakeholders use to judge the value of our product because decision-makers buy products to get jobs done.
  • People buy products and services to help them get a job done. The job - not the product - is the unit of analysis
  • A job is stable over time allowing product teams to come up with a set of needs that is stable over time
  • Customer needs: the metrics stakeholders use to measure success when getting a job done
  • Needs can be unmet, overserved, table-stakes
  • Segments are groups of people that struggle in unique ways to get a job done

People don't want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.

Using jobs theory to model needs

  • Define the market: job executors and job-to-be-done
  • Uncover the customer needs related to the job-to-be-done
  • Quantify the degree to which each need is under/overserved
  • Discover hidden segments of opportunity
  • Develop a data model based off prior steps to formulate a growth strategy

The data model aligns teams with a common language and understanding of customers and their needs - driving customer-centric and data-driven decision-making across the organization.

The data model can be useful in

  • Business model
  • Marketing
  • Product portfolio management
  • Product development and design
  • Customer experience

The "Desired outcome" statement

The perfect need statement has these unique characteristics and is called a desired outcome

  • It is stable over time
  • Tied to the job-to-be-done
  • Metric customers use to measure success when getting a job done
  • Measurable/controllable in the design of the product/service
  • Solution agnostic
  • Predictive
  • Research-ready
  • Cross-functionally applicable

A desired outcome statement is a structured statement defining how customers measure value and how a company can create it.

It should take this form:

Direction of improvement + Performance metric + Object of control + Contextual clarifier

An example would be: When trying to listen to music, a listener may want to “minimize the time it takes to get the songs in the desired order for listening”.

This level of granularity in defining a need is critical to establishing valuable input into the innovation process.

Outcome-based segmentation

The only way to find segments of customers with different unmet needs is to segment the market around unmet needs. Outcome-based segmentation reveals under- and overserved segments, their size, and which outcomes to target for growth.

I just wanted to share some thoughts around jobs theory. I found it quite compelling and I hope that you find this useful as well.

Here are the resources I used to gather my notes about the topic.



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