Brian Rhea Brian Rhea

How to Write Jobs to Be Done Example Statements

If you're trying to integrate Jobs to Be Done into your design process, you've probably found yourself looking for some concrete examples of Jobs to Be Done statements to be sure you're on the right track.

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.

Once you understand how to formulate your customers' core Job to Be Done, designing a JTBD survey or questionairre to quantify and visualize your research will be much easier.

What is an Example of a Job to Be Done?

A Job to Be Done:

  1. Is solution-agnostic.
  2. Results in progress when completed.
  3. Is relatively stable across time.

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.

For example:

“Help me brush my teeth in the morning” is not a great example of a Job to Be Done statement.

“Help me brush my teeth in the morning” is 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.

That’s a valid approach to designing sustaining innovations that impact customer satisfaction in the near-term. But it will not lead to disruptive new products and services.

Jobs to Be Done statements that are tied to existing solutions will not lead to disruptive new products and services.

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.”

This is a better example of a Job to Be Done statement because it’s detached from a solution and moves toward the person’s true motivation.

Now, this is not to say that the last profitable toothbrush company has been created.

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. And you’ll be more likely to deliver an “aha” moment during customer onboarding.

If you can find a way to help people keep their teeth healthy that’s 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 larger upside than a better toothbrush.

More 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.

Job to Be Done
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.

1. “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.

2. “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”.

3. “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.

4. “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.

Keep Leveling Up with these JTBD Podcast Episodes

If you’re interested in going deeper on Jobs to Be Done, I’ve guested on several podcasts on the topic and have posted them as bonus episodes on my show, Bright & Early. Give them a listen below.

I also recommend bookmarking the “Uncovering the Jobs to Be Done” presentation delivered by Moesta/Spiek at the Business of Software Conference for additional reference.

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 power of JTBD.

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