Jobs-to-be-done, a goal-driven solution framework

Clément Génin
Clément GéninUX Architect at AUSY Belgium
A goal-driven solution framework
J O B S -T O - B E - D O N E
Clément Génin
Business Analyst
A fast-food chain wanted to improve the sales 

of their milkshakes.
They added more flavours. More toppings. They made it creamier than
other fast-food chains’ milkshakes.
First, they focused on the product
Without results.
They panelled consumers and asked them directly how they could
improve their milkshakes. They used the feedback to change the product.
Then they focused on the customers
Again without significant results.
They profiled their targeted consumers into market segments and
calibered the milkshakes according to the related consuming habits.
Then they focused on the market segment
Still no results.
Then a researcher in the team redefined the problem at
hand by trying to find out what job people were trying to
get done that caused them to hire a milkshake.
Most customers buying a milkshake were alone, wearing work clothes,
would do it before 8 AM and would only buy a milkshake.
First, they observed the customers
They asked them about the context of the purchase (not about the
product): what were they doing, what went through their head, etc.
They find out that people were buying a milkshake to make their driving
to work less boring.
Then, they interviewed them about the purchase
Consumers didn’t really care about the taste. They
needed something they can consume immediately, with
one hand, that lasts and doesn’t easily stains.
Milkshake does this job better than its competition:
donuts, bananas, bagels, etc.
They made the purchase of milkshakes easier for commuters by installing
a dedicated self-service kiosk.
It allowed out-of-the-box solutions
Sales went up, without having to alter the product.
Why focusing on the product does not work?
1.

Adding features doesn’t mean adding value.

A feature is not used in a vacuum, it has to help the user
achieve a real-life situation goal.
The website doineedanumbrella.com became very
popular by answering the most asked question users have
when they check the weather forecast, instead of
drowning them in meteorological data.
2.

Being better than direct competitors doesn’t mean

being good or relevant.
The goal of the user (not the product) defines the
competition.
Why focusing on the product does not work?
If you focus on the product’s goal, then a cinema sells movies.

=> competition are cinemas and video stores.
If you focus on the user’s goal, then a cinema is often used to
keep children entertained.

=> competition also includes playgrounds.
1.

What users say they want (stated preferences) is often not
what they actually choose (revealed preferences).
Why focusing on user claims does not work?
Spirit Airlines: ultra low cost airline company.

Ranked least popular and yet fastest growing airline in the USA.
‣ Stated preferences: room for the legs, luggage space,
entertainment in the plane, on-board service, etc.
‣ Revealed preferences: low price.
2.

People think in terms of existing solutions, not in terms of
goals they try to achieve.
Why focusing on user claims does not work?
The first cars were basically motored horse-carriages.
“If I asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

- Henry Ford
People don’t consume by conforming to particular
segments but because they are looking for a solution.
Why focusing on market segments does not work?
“The fact that you're 18 to 35 years old with a college degree does not cause you
to buy a product. It may be correlated with the decision, but it doesn't cause it.”

- Clayton Christensen
Personas lack context and causality.

They don’t explain the initial situation, the external events, the
user’s anxieties and motivations that trigger the adoption of a
product/service.
The product analysis, design and sale should focus on:
understanding the job the users try to get done.
developing the product
asking what users want
matching market trends
A few more information about jobs
Theodore Levitt Anthony Ulwick Clayton Christensen
Jobs-to-be-done is a framework for innovation
developed by business experts

(not specific to web design)
Economist EconomistBusiness consultant
The concept:
People encounter situations that drive the need for a job.
They hire a product or service to get the job done.
Jobs remain valid over time.

What changes is the solution people use to get it done.
=> The product/service does not create the job.
Jobs are not easy to discover.

They are not obvious to the observer nor the user.
Jobs can be structured in hierarchy:
Make commute to work
less boring
Prevent me from being
hungry before 10AM
Refresh me in the
hot weather
Related
job
Related
job
Main job
Hiring is a process.

There are 4 forces in play:
Habit of the present
Anxiety of the new Magnetism of the new
Push of the situation
Behaviour change
People weigh off available solutions (“consideration set”)

according to performance criteria:
functional criteria
(objective)
emotional criteria
(subjective)
!
personal
(how i feel about the solution)
!
social
(how i believe i am perceived by
others when using the solution)
So what’s in it for a web agency?
Jobs-to-be-done can help us define the real problem
our customer tries to solve, and propose 

out-of-the-box solutions.
Ideal approach:
Find out what jobs the users try to get done by observing
them in the situation in which they encounter

the need for a solution.
Then ask them how they perceive the problem.
Otherwise, get a sense of the situation, the job and the
users’ perception by asking the customer:
‣ Ask about the context
‣ Ask several times and reformulate (in simple terms)
‣ Visualise as much as possible
‣ Get to the core of the problem (5 Ws rule)
‣ Steer away from solutions!
Formulate each job into a statement (or job stories):
source: Alan Klement
Prioritise jobs by mapping them

according to the added value for the user.
Define characters (instead of personas) for the job:
‣ A character is not a demographic
‣ A character is anchored in a real-life context
‣ A character has anxieties and motivations
‣ A character is depicted with a story
For each job, define hiring criteria

to evaluate the success of the solutions to come:
‣ Criteria maximise a motivation or minimise an anxiety
‣ Cover all aspects (functional, personal, social)
‣ Are there hiring constraints (time, budget, skills, access)?
What solutions are users currently hiring to do the job?
‣ Try to see beyond the obvious, direct competition
‣ What do users like/dislike about them?
Then, design a solution
‣ Make the problem space explicit:
‣ what job
‣ what performance criteria
‣ what constraints
‣ what characters
‣ what competition
‣ Ideate as a team
That’s all, thank you!
1 of 39

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Jobs-to-be-done, a goal-driven solution framework

  • 1. A goal-driven solution framework J O B S -T O - B E - D O N E Clément Génin Business Analyst
  • 2. A fast-food chain wanted to improve the sales 
 of their milkshakes.
  • 3. They added more flavours. More toppings. They made it creamier than other fast-food chains’ milkshakes. First, they focused on the product Without results.
  • 4. They panelled consumers and asked them directly how they could improve their milkshakes. They used the feedback to change the product. Then they focused on the customers Again without significant results.
  • 5. They profiled their targeted consumers into market segments and calibered the milkshakes according to the related consuming habits. Then they focused on the market segment Still no results.
  • 6. Then a researcher in the team redefined the problem at hand by trying to find out what job people were trying to get done that caused them to hire a milkshake.
  • 7. Most customers buying a milkshake were alone, wearing work clothes, would do it before 8 AM and would only buy a milkshake. First, they observed the customers
  • 8. They asked them about the context of the purchase (not about the product): what were they doing, what went through their head, etc. They find out that people were buying a milkshake to make their driving to work less boring. Then, they interviewed them about the purchase
  • 9. Consumers didn’t really care about the taste. They needed something they can consume immediately, with one hand, that lasts and doesn’t easily stains. Milkshake does this job better than its competition: donuts, bananas, bagels, etc.
  • 10. They made the purchase of milkshakes easier for commuters by installing a dedicated self-service kiosk. It allowed out-of-the-box solutions Sales went up, without having to alter the product.
  • 11. Why focusing on the product does not work? 1.
 Adding features doesn’t mean adding value.
 A feature is not used in a vacuum, it has to help the user achieve a real-life situation goal.
  • 12. The website doineedanumbrella.com became very popular by answering the most asked question users have when they check the weather forecast, instead of drowning them in meteorological data.
  • 13. 2.
 Being better than direct competitors doesn’t mean
 being good or relevant. The goal of the user (not the product) defines the competition. Why focusing on the product does not work?
  • 14. If you focus on the product’s goal, then a cinema sells movies.
 => competition are cinemas and video stores. If you focus on the user’s goal, then a cinema is often used to keep children entertained.
 => competition also includes playgrounds.
  • 15. 1.
 What users say they want (stated preferences) is often not what they actually choose (revealed preferences). Why focusing on user claims does not work?
  • 16. Spirit Airlines: ultra low cost airline company.
 Ranked least popular and yet fastest growing airline in the USA. ‣ Stated preferences: room for the legs, luggage space, entertainment in the plane, on-board service, etc. ‣ Revealed preferences: low price.
  • 17. 2.
 People think in terms of existing solutions, not in terms of goals they try to achieve. Why focusing on user claims does not work?
  • 18. The first cars were basically motored horse-carriages. “If I asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”
 - Henry Ford
  • 19. People don’t consume by conforming to particular segments but because they are looking for a solution. Why focusing on market segments does not work? “The fact that you're 18 to 35 years old with a college degree does not cause you to buy a product. It may be correlated with the decision, but it doesn't cause it.”
 - Clayton Christensen
  • 20. Personas lack context and causality.
 They don’t explain the initial situation, the external events, the user’s anxieties and motivations that trigger the adoption of a product/service.
  • 21. The product analysis, design and sale should focus on: understanding the job the users try to get done. developing the product asking what users want matching market trends
  • 22. A few more information about jobs
  • 23. Theodore Levitt Anthony Ulwick Clayton Christensen Jobs-to-be-done is a framework for innovation developed by business experts
 (not specific to web design) Economist EconomistBusiness consultant
  • 24. The concept: People encounter situations that drive the need for a job. They hire a product or service to get the job done.
  • 25. Jobs remain valid over time.
 What changes is the solution people use to get it done. => The product/service does not create the job.
  • 26. Jobs are not easy to discover.
 They are not obvious to the observer nor the user.
  • 27. Jobs can be structured in hierarchy: Make commute to work less boring Prevent me from being hungry before 10AM Refresh me in the hot weather Related job Related job Main job
  • 28. Hiring is a process.
 There are 4 forces in play: Habit of the present Anxiety of the new Magnetism of the new Push of the situation Behaviour change
  • 29. People weigh off available solutions (“consideration set”)
 according to performance criteria: functional criteria (objective) emotional criteria (subjective) ! personal (how i feel about the solution) ! social (how i believe i am perceived by others when using the solution)
  • 30. So what’s in it for a web agency? Jobs-to-be-done can help us define the real problem our customer tries to solve, and propose 
 out-of-the-box solutions.
  • 31. Ideal approach: Find out what jobs the users try to get done by observing them in the situation in which they encounter
 the need for a solution. Then ask them how they perceive the problem.
  • 32. Otherwise, get a sense of the situation, the job and the users’ perception by asking the customer: ‣ Ask about the context ‣ Ask several times and reformulate (in simple terms) ‣ Visualise as much as possible ‣ Get to the core of the problem (5 Ws rule) ‣ Steer away from solutions!
  • 33. Formulate each job into a statement (or job stories): source: Alan Klement
  • 34. Prioritise jobs by mapping them
 according to the added value for the user.
  • 35. Define characters (instead of personas) for the job: ‣ A character is not a demographic ‣ A character is anchored in a real-life context ‣ A character has anxieties and motivations ‣ A character is depicted with a story
  • 36. For each job, define hiring criteria
 to evaluate the success of the solutions to come: ‣ Criteria maximise a motivation or minimise an anxiety ‣ Cover all aspects (functional, personal, social) ‣ Are there hiring constraints (time, budget, skills, access)?
  • 37. What solutions are users currently hiring to do the job? ‣ Try to see beyond the obvious, direct competition ‣ What do users like/dislike about them?
  • 38. Then, design a solution ‣ Make the problem space explicit: ‣ what job ‣ what performance criteria ‣ what constraints ‣ what characters ‣ what competition ‣ Ideate as a team