The History and Applications of the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory

If you’re a product developer, chances are you’ve heard of the jobs-to-be-done theory. This theory has its roots in economics, and it’s a powerful tool for understanding customer behavior.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of the jobs-to-be-done theory and explore some of its applications.

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Jobs to be Done

What is the jobs-to-be-done theory and where did it come from?

The jobs-to-be-done theory is a framework for understanding customer behavior. It posits that customers hire products and services to get a job done. Jobs are defined as the progress consumers are trying to make in their lives, given the circumstances they face at a particular moment.

The jobs-to-be-done theory originated with Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen in his 1997 book “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Since then, it has been popularized by other thinkers in the fields of marketing and product development.

The theory has been used to explain why customers choose one product over another, and how companies can create new products that meet unmet customer needs.

While the jobs-to-be-done theory has its critics, it remains a popular framework for understanding consumer behavior.

What are some of the applications of the jobs-to-be-done theory?

The jobs-to-be-done theory is a framework for thinking about customer motivation. It posits that customers don’t buy products or services, they hire them to do a job.

This simple shift in perspective has significant implications for marketing and product development. For example, if you’re selling power drills, you’re not really selling drills, you’re selling the ability to make holes in walls.

This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one. It means that your focus should be on understanding the customer’s needs and designing a drill that meets those needs as effectively as possible.

The jobs-to-be-done theory can also be applied to service businesses. For example, customers don’t go to restaurants to eat food, they go to have their hunger satisfied. Understanding this simple truth can help restaurateurs design a better customer experience and improve their bottom line.

The jobs-to-be-done theory can also help you understand why customers churn. Churn is a major problem for subscription businesses, and it’s often caused by customers hiring a competing product to do the same job.

By understanding the customer’s needs, subscription businesses can design better retention strategies and keep more customers for longer.

How can you use the jobs-to-be-done theory to improve your product development process?

To apply the jobs-to-be-done theory to your product development process, start by identifying the specific jobs that your target customers need to get done.

Once you have a good understanding of customer needs, you can then begin developing products or features that address those needs.

This is done through a process of quantifying needs based on how profitable filling them can be, and how much it will cost to develop a solution that meets those needs.

Once you have segmented needs based on profitability and market necessity, you can then develop a product backlog and prioritize which needs should be addressed first in the design and development processes.

This will help you focus your product development efforts on creating the most value for your customers and your business.

Final Thoughts

The jobs-to-be-done theory is a powerful tool for understanding customer behavior. While it has its critics, the theory remains popular and has been used to explain why customers choose one product over another. If you’re looking to improve your product development process, the jobs-to-be-done theory can be a helpful framework.

If you want to learn more about the jobs-to-be-done theory, you can visit Strategyn’s website.

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