Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) is a framework for problem solving, most often used for product development and innovation.
Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen is the father of JTBD, and you may know him as the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma. Central to the JTBD framework is the idea that we hire products, because we have a job that needs to be done.
One of the classic examples of JTBD-driven product development involves milkshakes. A restaurant was trying to increase milkshake sales. They did focus groups around the flavor, consistency and other attributes, but nothing helped.
Using the JTBD framework, researchers instead looked at the job consumers were hiring the milkshake to do. Turns out, a lot of milkshakes were being sold at breakfast to truckers. And the milkshake’s job was to be convenient behind the wheel, a treat to start the morning, and filling until the next time the trucker ate. From this perspective, product developments like a thicker milkshake would make it unwieldy when you’re driving. As for the competition, you’re now up against other portable, calorie-dense foods like bagels and bananas.
But what about a parent who wants to buy their kid a milkshake on a Sunday afternoon? The job here isn’t to be a filling beverage behind the wheel, it’s to provide a fun treat and moment of bonding. The competition for this job might be a trip to the toy store.
The following sums it up from an article Christensen coauthored for Harvard Business Review:
“After decades of watching great companies fail, we’ve come to the conclusion that the focus on correlation—and on knowing more and more about customers—is taking firms in the wrong direction. What they really need to home in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance—what the customer hopes to accomplish. This is what we’ve come to call the job to be done.”
The Motley Fool has been using the JTBD framework to better understand the jobs that our members—largely individual investors—are looking to get done. And we’ve had some exciting results. So much so, that we’re hosting a meet-up at 7 pm on August 17 at Motley Fool HQ to share what we’ve learned with others.
If you’re in the DC area and would like to learn more about JTBD framework from a bunch of Fools, you can sign up here.