How your customer's job-to-be-done helps you to anticipate the future

In my recent blog article, I explained how Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) thinking can help companies to expand their innovation horizon providing a higher-level perspective. Now I would like to elaborate on another JTBD characteristic that transforms the way companies innovate: a job-to-be-done reflects the natural evolution of a market from the customer’s perspective, providing long-term guidance for a company’s growth strategy.

Let’s dive right into an example. For more than a century people have wanted to “listen to recorded music”. This job statement was just as valid for phonographs as it was for cassette decks – and remains just as valid today for online streaming services. While the overall job-to-be-done has stayed constant for the last 130 years, the products and services fulfilling it have certainly changed. But if we take a closer look, we will recognize that the job-to-be-done has also somehow evolved. Whereas listening to recorded music in the 1880s meant “putting a record on a phonograph to listen to a string quartet composition”, while in the 1980s it meant “listening to your favorite rock band while driving around in your car”, today it might for instance mean “surfing the Spotify universe to discover new artists that match your personal taste”.

Jobs-to-be-done naturally evolve to be more complex and more complete because we as human beings have an inherent desire to “evolve”. Consumers will prefer solutions that help them to move forward in a certain aspect of their life – in other words, solutions that help them to get a certain job done better. Companies try to develop products and services that are ahead of this development – at least one step farther ahead of this development than their competitors. Customers as well as companies are part of the game, driving the process forward from their position.

If a company learns to understand its customer’s job-to-be-done at a detailed level it can identify the drivers of its future evolution: the underserved customer needs. Identifying underserved needs through a customer’s job-to-de-done is the core mission of Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI), an innovation process that puts Jobs-to-be-Done theory into practice. The ODI process breaks the job down into about a dozen chronological job steps. For each job step, the metrics customers use to evaluate success are identified and translated into a special syntax that ensures they are defined unambiguously and that they are free of solutions. We call these metrics “outcomes”. For example, when listening to music, customers want to “minimize the time it takes to get the songs in the desired listening order” or they want to “minimize the likelihood of failing to include a song that a guest expects to hear”. Typically, 100 to 150 outcomes are identified for a given job. All of them are evaluated in a large-scale survey to identify the level of satisfaction and importance for each single outcome. Satisfaction and importance are then related to each other and organized in an “Opportunity Landscape”, a visual depiction of sustainable growth and disruptive innovation potential.

From the JTBD perspective, the underserved outcomes represent the weak points of today’s solutions and indicate the most probable direction of evolution of a customer’s job-to-be-done. Knowing its customer’s underserved outcomes is of great value to a company as it provides long term guidance for a company’s growth strategy (remember that a well-defined job-to-be-done does not change over time on the upper level; consequently the outcomes related to that JTBD do not lose their relevance over time).

Let’s return to our job-to-be-done example “listen to recorded music”. We don’t know what this particular job will develop into in, let’s say, 80 years from now. But we do know that people will still be listening to music and will still be using products and services to do so. The job will be bigger and more complex than today’s “listening to music”, enabling listeners to do things that are unimaginable from today’s point of view. Outcome-Driven Innovation® helps us to identify today’s opportunity areas which might be the first step into this future.

 

JTBD Webinar , 27 Aug, 2019

JTBD WEBINAR

1-hour online Introduction on putting Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory into Practice with Outcome-Driven Innovation® Get an introduction to the Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® framework and …

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JTBD Sprint , 18 Sep, 2019

JTBD SPRINT

3-hours Training on putting Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory into Practice with Outcome-Driven Innovation® Get an introduction to the Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® framework and its …

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