Jobs To Be Done

How to better understand your customers using the Jobs To Be Done framework

The Jobs To Be Done framework is the best solution to understand your customers' deepest motivations. It allows you to take a step back from the "who" and the "what" to focus on the "why" of your targeted buyer persona.

Morvan Carrier

Acquisition Strategist & Co-Founder

Jobs To Be Done

Originally the Jobs To Be Done method was designed to deepen the innovation process, but it also combines wonderfully with the marketing approach of the personas. If you haven't already done so, I invite you to read our article on Personas in order to understand the interest of combining Jobs To Be Done with your buyer personas.

Jobs To Be Done: definition and origin

Defining the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework or JTBD

The Jobs-to-be-done method involves moving away from the notion of "need", to focus on the work your customers want to accomplish, the "customer jobs".

We, therefore, look at it from the point of view of the customer who is looking to buy a product or a service. The best possible product or service to accomplish the task he or she has to do.

The job-to-be-done theory was formalized in 2007 by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor. It is inspired by a quote from Theodore Levitt who in 1960 expressed the following idea:

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!

Theodore Levitt

The idea seems simple, even obvious, and yet it is far from being systematically applied by sales, marketing or even product teams.

A framework that produces innovation

Initially, this method was applied to improve user experience and fuel innovation processes within product teams. The focus of the JTBD technique is on the mission rather than the individual.

The advantage is that the mission is constant, it does not vary over time and does not depend upon the current structure.


For example, in his book Christensen explains that the Hilti company has completely revised its model using the JTBD method.

Hilti sold power tools for professionals and kept adding new features to try to beat the competition. It was expensive and did not produce the desired results.

They took a step back and studied what their user wanted to accomplish. They realized that one of the "jobs" was simply to be able to drill the holes quickly and at the right size. But with a model based on tool ownership, the tool eventually wears out and the cost of replacement is a drag. The user, therefore, drags a defective tool along and loses time.

The innovation opportunity was delivered by the user, evolving Hilti's model to include services. Providing reliable equipment that withstands the test of time enabled Hilti to become one of the most profitable professional power tool companies on the market.

How to use the Jobs To Be Done framework?

How to improve your results with the Jobs-To-Be-Done

Human beings are programmed to survive AND evolve.

If you want to get something from someone, you must allow them to reach an ideal, a better version of themselves. Otherwise, why would he waste his time doing anything with you?

Good advertisers have understood this very well. Perfume ads don't sell you a product that smells good, they sell you a form of "ideal" that you could achieve, using their fragrance.

You are going to tell me that with the example of the drill that is actually used to make a hole in the wall my explanation makes no sense.

The example of the drill is in fact indicative of a pitfall to avoid. Jobs-to-be-done should not be seen as a simple task list and should not be considered only on a functional aspect.

If you want to take full advantage of jobs-to-be-done, you must integrate all the dimensions of the "job" your customer wants to accomplish. You have to understand all the desired outcomes he wants to get thanks to your product.


The 3 dimensions of the Job to be done

The job-to-be-done framework is a very good way to understand the real motivations of your customers. And, contrary to what is often thought, they are not purely rational and functional.

In fact, there are three main dimensions of the work to be done for your client.

The functional dimension

This is the most obvious aspect of the "job", it's the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, it is enough to ask yourself the question: "what task does my customer want to achieve with my product or service".

In the example of the drill, it is a question of making a hole. But more precisely, one could say that it is about making a hole in the plasterboard walls of his newly built house to place a new piece of furniture. In order to achieve this level of detail, it is essential to have established your Buyer Personas beforehand.


The emotional dimension

This is the most delicate part of this method. Here, you need to understand what emotions your client is experiencing while doing the job. Having worked with your target will help you.

Let's go back to the drilling machine example. It is easy to imagine the fear that -not great handyman- clients may feel. They fear that they won't be able to do drill properly and that they can get hurt, or break something, in the process. You could say that his emotional job would be to be confident in his ability to perform the tasks with the tool.


The social dimension

Finally, let's not forget that humans are social animals. This means that in all our actions there is a social aspect, a “social job”. All our decisions, more or less consciously, take into account the effects that the action will have on those around us.

Let's finish our example. The house that your client is furnishing is his first purchase, a purchase he made with his wife to welcome their upcoming baby. What your client wants to accomplish is much more than just breaking through walls. He wants to show his wife that he will be able to take care of their house and their baby.


Using this method properly you will know precisely what your clients need:

-A simple drill, that he can easily understand and use.

-A well-made tutorial to give him tips on how to properly use the tool and ease his fears.

-A cool accessory like a case to safely store the tool to show that the tool belongs with the client, in his home.

Remember, this method is not perfect and only reveals its full potential if it is effectively combined with:

  1. The elaboration of Buyer Personas
  2. The modeling of the customer's journey

Frequently Asked Questions about Jobs To Be Done

💡 What are jobs to be done?

It's a methodology inspired by a quote from Theodore Levitt: "People don't need a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole." to understand the real motivations and needs of your potential customers.

🎓 What is the job-to-be-done method?

You must consider that your potential customers are looking to recruit the best possible solution to accomplish the task they want to achieve. This task has 3 dimensions: Functional, Emotional and Social. By understanding all of these aspects, you will be able to create and offer THE solution that is perfectly suited to their needs.

🤔 How to use this method?

The jobs to be done approach is perfect coupled with work on your personas and their customer journey. It is very useful because it will tell you how to convince your customers and not just where and when to talk to them. We can't do without it!