27 October 2023 Martin Cheetham

Apple understood that when they were marketing the iPod, they needed to speak to people’s desired outcomes: their jobs to be done. Instead of talking about features like how much data their mp3 player could store, they spoke to what people wanted. Which was the flexibility to listen to whatever they wanted, when they wanted. Hence their message: “1000 songs in your pocket”.

Understanding what your customers are trying to achieve is vital for the success of any product or service. Equally important is how they will measure success.

“Jobs Theory” (no, not that Jobs) is another term for the “Jobs to be Done” (JTBD) framework. Jobs Theory is a concept developed by Clayton Christensen and his colleagues at Harvard Business School. It centers around the idea that customers “hire” products or services to fulfill specific jobs or tasks in their lives, and understanding these jobs is crucial for successful product design and marketing.

Jobs Theory emphasises the following key points:

  1. Jobs: Customers have specific jobs or tasks they want to accomplish in their lives, and they look for solutions (products or services) that help them get those jobs done.
  2. Progress: Customers hire a product or service to make progress towards accomplishing a job. Progress can be functional (efficiency), emotional (satisfaction or relief), or social (fitting in or signaling a particular identity).
  3. Forces of Progress: These are the factors that influence customers’ choices. Pushing factors are the challenges, frustrations, and unmet needs that drive customers to seek solutions, while pulling factors are the positive attributes that attract them to a particular product or service.
  4. Job Statements: Identifying and defining job statements helps in understanding the specific needs and motivations of customers. A job statement typically follows this structure: “When [situation], I want to [job] so I can [desired outcome].”

“There is no single right answer or path forward, but there is one right way to frame the question.” – Clayton Christensen

Jobs Theory is a valuable tool for product innovation, as it encourages businesses to focus on the customer’s job or goal, rather than just the product itself. By understanding the jobs customers are trying to get done, companies can better develop and market products that meet those needs and desires, leading to greater customer satisfaction and success in the market.