The deserted ‘Product Room’ at Healthily. Only weeks before the team had decamped to this special space, complete with air ioniser. Our CEO warned us that we’d be at home isolating but we couldn’t quite believe it.
Hard to think now but my kids (10/11) at the time were worried. With no idea what to expect I dropped off some supplies at their mum’s home.
In the world of product development, understanding the needs of the customer is an essential step towards creating a successful product. One approach that has gained popularity in recent years is the “Jobs to be Done” framework – some say it is the secret sauce that Apple use to develop products and innovate. This concept focuses on understanding and addressing the underlying needs of the customers, rather than just the product features or benefits. In this post, we will dive deeper into the Jobs to be Done concept and how it can be useful in product development.
Remember Kodak? If you’re old enough the brand will mean something to you. Kodak’s income in the 70s / 80s relied on the sale of their film products. What you may not know is that a Kodak engineer invented the digital camera. But Kodak, worried that this would cannibalise their core product (film), decided against developing this further. By failing to look at the real drivers and needs of their customer, Kodak didn’t innovate.
“Jobs to be Done” (JTBD) is a framework that helps in identifying the underlying need or problem that the customer is trying to solve. It is a way of looking at the customer’s needs from a different perspective. Instead of looking at the customer’s needs based on the product features or benefits, the focus is on the underlying problem that the customer is trying to solve.
If Kodak has used JTBD they would have realised ‘making memories’ was their customers’ key job to be done. Products change over time. For stone-age man, making memories was hieroglyphics in caves. Later on a town crier in the main square, then a camera, then a phone and so on. Innovation succeeds when JTBD is applied. JTDB would have pushed Kodak to rapidly bring their digital camera to market and continue to innovate, leading to ongoing innovation as product lifecycles change but the job function remains the same. They would be, for example, examining implants right now to preserve memories or share them.
By understanding the underlying problem that the customer is trying to solve, the product development team can create a solution that resonates with the customer. It helps in creating a product that is not only functional but also meets the customer’s needs. The focus is on the customer’s goals and the outcome they want to achieve, rather than the product features or benefits..
The first step in applying JTBD is to identify the customer’s underlying need or problem. This can be done by talking to the customers and understanding their goals and aspirations. Once the underlying need is identified, the product development team can focus on creating a solution that meets that need.
For example, let’s say a customer wants to buy a car. Instead of just focusing on the features and benefits of the car, the team can try to understand the underlying reason why the customer wants to buy a car. Is it because they want to commute to work, or is it because they want to take their family on road trips? By understanding the underlying drivers, the team can create a car that better meets the customer’s needs.
In conclusion, the Jobs to be Done framework is a powerful tool that can help in creating a successful product. The team can create a solution that really resonates with the customer. The focus is on the customer’s goals and the outcome they want to achieve, rather than the product features or benefits.
Reading / Tools
🔗 Tony Ulwick (Strategyn founder and pioneer of JTBD theory)
🔗 Harvard Business Review on JTBD
🔗 Free Book > JTBD: Theory to Practice by Tony Ulwick
🔗 What customers want from your products – Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall
🔗 MIRO JTBD Template for Product Teams