If you’re trying to integrate Jobs to Be Done into your design process, you’ve probably found yourself looking for some examples of Jobs to Be Done statements. After all, there are several camps out there pushing this thing and it can be
a little super confusing to know if you’re moving in the right direction.
In this post, I’ll share some examples of well-worded and poorly-worded JTBD statements so that you can put the theory into practice with confidence! And please, let me know in the comments if you’ve still got some questions.
What is an Example of a Job to Be Done?
A job is:
- A problem that, when solved, results in progress.
- Relatively stable across time.
- (Although not across all of humankind. Go back far enough and we’re in caves. Far enough ahead and we’re all robots. Are you watching Black Mirror? You should. So good.)
A Job to Be Done doesn’t know what products or solutions have existed, currently exist, or might exist. It’s just framing some area of life where your customer is at the center of a struggle, and they want some help solving the problem.
“Help me brush my teeth in the morning” is not a great example of a Job to Be Done statement that is likely to lead to innovative product design.
It’s joined at the hip to an existing solution (a toothbrush) and there’s only so far you’ll be able to expand your thinking within that bubble.
Which is a completely valid approach to designing sustaining innovations.
A design team specifically tasked with improving the customer experience for an existing model would be absolutely spot-on in researching how to “help customers brush their teeth”.
But, that’s not what Jobs Theory is describing and it is unlikely to lead you to a disruptive innovation.
A Better Example
A way to describe the Job to Be Done when a person is brushing their teeth that could lead to more innovative product design is:
“Keep my teeth healthy.”
Can you see the difference?
“Help me brush my teeth in the morning” is limited to an existing product and solution. There are only so many ways to innovate on that context and only so much progress to be made.
Again, this is not to say that the last profitable toothbrush company has been created. That is not what Jobs Theory is trying to say.
But, set out to design a solution around “Keep my teeth healthy”, and now you’re looking at a problem that people faced hundreds of years ago, they face today, and they will face hundreds of years from now.
If you can find a way to help people keep their teeth healthy that is more effective, less expensive, and takes less time than brushing their teeth … well, it’s safe to say you’re on to something with a much larger upside than a slightly better toothbrush.
Jobs to Be Done Examples
Let’s look at a few more examples of Jobs to Be Done statements and decide if they are likely to lead to highly-innovative thinking.
|Poorly-worded Job to Be Done||Well-worded Job to Be Done|
|Get my floor as clean as possible when I vacuum.||Maintain a clean living space.|
|Edit my photos and provide a variety of professional filters I can easily use.||Share beautiful pictures.|
|Help me maximize my deductions and get as much back from my taxes as possible.||File my taxes with confidence.|
|Let me add tags, labels, and folders to my email program so that I can sort things according to my system.||Find emails and files quickly.|
“Get my floor as clean as possible when I vacuum.” vs. “Maintain a clean living space.”
The poorly-worded version is a legit desire and there’s definitely a market for meeting this desire. That’s why a lot of people own a Dyson. If you’re gonna vacuum, you want to see and hear that sucker doing work!
But, you’re not vacuuming as an end to itself. You want to have a clean living room.
Focusing on the vacuum and only the vacuum will lead to a very impressive vacuum cleaner.
Innovating on the Job to Be Done leads to a Roomba.
“Edit my photos and provide a variety of professional filters I can easily use.” vs. “Share beautiful pictures.”
Both Photoshop and Instagram satisfy the first statement. But if that sentence is where the team at Instagram stopped, if that’s the Job they thought they were solving, then what’s the product roadmap look like?
Filters, filters, and filters, right? It’s just filters all the way down.
But that’s not the Job people hire Instagram to do. People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole. Likewise, people don’t want filters, they want to share beautiful pictures and filters are a feature that help them do the job.
Gueric touches on some similar thinking to this in his post, “3 Jobs-to-be-Done Examples to Help You Innovate with Confidence“.
“Help me maximize my deductions and get as much back from my taxes as possible.” vs. “File my taxes with confidence.”
Don’t make this mistake and start over-complicating your JTBD statements.
A Job statement is simple and defined at a level of detail that mirrors where your business is at in its product development.
Don’t be too wordy. Get to the core of the customer’s problem (5 Whys is very helpful here) and keep the statement simple.
“Let me add tags, labels, and folders to my email program so that I can sort things according to my system.” vs. “Find emails and files quickly.”
If you’ve started interviewing customers, potential customers, or if you’re scratching your own itch and you are the first customer, it can be all too easy to start jotting down feature requests and product requirements that meet the immediate need but miss the bigger picture.
Resist the urge to pull solutions and feature ideas into your list of Jobs to Be Done. When you see a solution wiggle its way in, keep digging. There’s a deeper need and when you uncover that you’ll get to the core JTBD.
Follow the patterns in those examples above, and that’s when you’ll really start making progress toward defining your customers’ core Jobs to Be Done. When you can nail down their core Jobs, then you’re able to begin unlocking the real power of the JTBD methodology:
Dissecting all of the steps within the Job and then innovating on them in new and novel ways!
The approach I take in dissecting those steps will be the topic of another post.
In the meantime, I hope this has been helpful. Let me know in the comments if you’ve still got some questions. I’d love to continue the conversation.