Jobs To Be Done Theory: A Model For In-Depth Product User Research

Creating an innovative product for a customer can seem like a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Some customers have specific needs that are not being met by current products; so they search for new ones to solve their problems. Other times, a company wants to create a new product that consumers will well receive. In both cases, user research is an essential tool in understanding what people want from your business. The Jobs-to-be-Done theory provides insight into this idea of uncovering unmet needs; and improving the utility of products through in-depth research and development processes.

This blog post will take a closer look at key components of the Jobs-to-be-Done theory and how it can improve your product development process.

How Can Jobs To Be Done Theory Help In In-Depth Product User Research?

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It isn’t about the customer or the product.

Many companies think that to create an innovative product, they must focus on the customer and product. When it comes to the Jobs-to-be-Done theory, the critical unit of analysis is neither. The premise of the JTBD theory is that the customer has a “job” that they need to be done; and customer satisfaction is created when a product completes that job.

This means that markets are also not defined around the product; but rather a group of people that have a typical job they need to get done. For example, the market for soy milk isn’t defined by people; who prefer milky drinks but rather those looking for a non-dairy beverage; because of dietary restrictions or personal preferences.

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The customer journey is not linear—it’s all about timing.

When conducting user research from a traditional perspective, companies look at the customer journey as a linear process. The Jobs-to-be-Done theory takes a different approach by suggesting that particular needs are answered at different times in the customer’s life.

For example, if someone buys or rents an apartment, they might need furniture for their new place. However, this is not just about buying any old bookshelf to fill up space; it’s actually more complex than that. There could be many jobs that need to be done in this situation; such as having a place to store books and storing knowledge. One job is tied more closely with a furniture purchase; while another can happen years after buying new items for their home.

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Your competitors are not specifically those who sell similar products.

Your competitors are companies who sell products that your target customers are using to get the same job done. For example, social media platforms aren’t just fighting for user engagement amongst each other. They compete with streaming platforms, blogs, and other forms of entertainment that take up that share of their users’ time.

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Needs are just metrics customers use to measure success.

JTBD theory is based on the premise that needs are used to judge if a product has fulfilled its job. This means that customer satisfaction is not just about having a physical condition met; but rather fulfilling all expectations of what completing this task will do for them to improve their life or work situation. They are not vague either; they are knowable and observable and can be measured with quantitative data.

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Applying The JTBD Theory To Your Business

The Jobs-to-be-Done theory is an excellent tool for businesses to use during the product development process. It can help them uncover potential problems with their business model or how they are producing products; ultimately leading to more successful contributions in the marketplace.

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Job-to-be-done theory can help companies discover their unmet customer needs; and improve the usability of products through detailed user research methods. The JTBD model is both a qualitative and quantitative approach to understanding what people want from your business; it is not just about the customer or the product. Companies must make sure they are applying this information to create successful offerings that consumers will receive.

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Images by Gerd Altmann and Daniel Schmieder

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