What is the Jobs To Be Done concept

The Jobs To Be Done concept is an approach that allows you to understand the factors that motivate people to buy something. It is used by product design teams. For example, if we are talking about the development of a mobile application, then many questions immediately arise: “Who will it be useful for?”, “What benefit does it bring?”, “When will people use it?” and so on. The Jobs To Be Done concept provides answers to these questions.

In this article, we will analyze this approach and find out who and when it can be useful.

What is Jobs To Be Done

Thousands of startups are opened in the world every day, and this number exceeds millions per year. However, only about 10% of them get on their feet and begin to bear fruit. Why so? Because products are created on enthusiasm – no one thinks about their benefits.

By applying the Jobs To Be Done concept, you can determine people’s behavior and understand why they take certain actions to buy something. This allows you to make optimistic predictions about which custom product will be in demand on the market.

One of the key ideas of this approach is that different people buy the same product for different purposes. In other words, people do not buy products, butare hiringยป them to perform specific tasks and meet their needs. Yes, it sounds quite unusual, but this is the beauty of the concept. For example, someone buys a smartphone to play games on it, someone buys it because it is fashionable, and an elderly woman buys it to call her grandchildren – all this can be burdened with the phrase “hire a product”.

The concept of Jobs To Be Done in simple words

Smartphone performs “different work” for its “customers”

Most often, when developing any product, you need to understand what the users of the product we want to sell are. For this, images of customers are taken – “personas”, “avatars” or “user stories”. In the case of Jobs To Be Done, a completely different approach is used – Job Story. These are the stories of the very jobs for which the products are hired. Stories describe situations when the user has a need for some “work”, and answer the question: what needs need to be realized, how the product can do the work.

Let’s understand how Jobs To Be Story works using a specific product example.


User: Semen, 25 years old.

Product: synthesizer.

Suppose there is Semyon at the age of 25, who works as a courier, lives alone, he does not have a girlfriend, and his hobbies are listening to music and watching movies. Along with this, he has a boring lifestyle and only a few friends, with whom he occasionally meets in a bar. He also has a musical education acquired in childhood.

Semen’s needs are recognition and attention from others, in particular, from the opposite sex. These are the needs that apply to our chosen product – the synthesizer. With its help, Semyon can solve a number of his “problems”: change jobs, find new acquaintances, and simply occupy his boring days by playing the synthesizer. That’s why he “hires” a synthesizer.

There is also another person – Oleg. He is Semen’s older brother, who is professionally engaged in music, and his main instrument is a synthesizer. He also wants to buy it, but he does not need it to gain recognition, but only to update the assortment. From this we can conclude that one product can be used by different people for different purposes.

For such Job Stories, it is customary to use the formula: “I, as X, want Y to get Z”. If you put it in a story with Semyon, then it will be “I Semyon, I am 25 years old, I work at a boring job, I sit at home in the evenings and watch movies (X), I want to gain recognition from others and improve my life (Y) to become interesting for the opposite sex (Z)”.

In order for the product to do the job it needs to do, you need to draw up portraits of the Seed users and study their motivations, needs and barriers. It is important to know how Semyon tried to solve the problem earlier and why he failed.

And one more example. Why “hire” the Telegram application? Let’s see:

  • to communicate with friends;
  • read the news;
  • find new acquaintances;
  • run your own channel and share interesting materials;
  • run your channel and earn from it.

It seems that this is only one application, but its purpose can be completely different. At the same time, “jobs” are added and disappear, and people change. You should always start with research: why a person decides to hire your product, what needs are currently relevant and in what format it is convenient to satisfy them.

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Who Jobs To Be Done can help

The concept of Jobs To Be Done helps everyone who needs this help. If you have a small company or just a product that you want to send to work, then you can already start working under the laws of JTBD. This approach will give you answers to why users buy your product and who needs it in the first place.

Jobs To Be Done can help develop products that are not yet on the market. If you understand what “jobs” users have, you can decide on the product they need.

The key difference of Jobs To Be Done

The main difference between the concept and other approaches is that it is necessary to rely not so much on the advantages of the product, but on its function. The main thing is what it can give the user during operation. Even if the product will have a cool design and a convenient interface, it still does not mean anything. Everything will work only if the product does its “job” best.

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Two interpretations of Jobs To Be Done

It is customary to distinguish two interpretations of the concept. Jobs-As-Progress (“work” as progress) and Jobs-As-Activities (“Work” as a process). The first was used by a group of authors: Clayton Christensen, Alan Clement and others, and the second approach is closely related to Anthony Ulvik.

Let’s look at each interpretation and find out how they differ from each other and whether there is the best one among them.


This approach is that the buyer has to become better. If we go back to Semen, it is not access to the synthesizer that plays a role here, but access to new opportunities – you can learn to play a musical instrument better, expand your horizons and become popular. All this is a long-term process, which is why this approach is called Jobs-As-Progress – “work” as progress. Semyon buys a musical instrument and gradually advances in his needs.

The interesting thing about this approach is that it starts working when the buyer sees some discrepancy between their needs and their current state.

Jobs-As-Progress defines a number of terms such as desires, constraints, and purchasing decisions. The buyer has needs, limitations and is in the mood to change his life.


Unlike the previous approach, Jobs-As-Activities is not focused on the process, but on the action. For example, people buy a mop to use it for cleaning. Or they rent a car to drive to a good place. Work can be functional, emotional or associated with the use of a product.

The Jobs-As-Activities concept suggests that users want to perform activities and tasks. Its author uses examples of “works” such as “build a house”, “download a movie”, “paint a wall” and so on. Tasks are at the head of all analysis – any emotional considerations are secondary to functional work.

To summarize: Jobs-As-Activities are more functional than emotional. He deliberately does not go first into the inner world of the buyer. We take a product to perform a specific task. In the Jobs-As-Progress approach, by contrast, tasks and subtasks are not as important as the main goal. If we buy a synthesizer, we need it not just to play on it, but to solve more global issues, for example, to find recognition.

Types of competition in Jobs To Be Done

It is customary to distinguish three types of competition in Jobs To Be Done, which should be remembered by everyone who starts developing their product.

  • Direct competition โ€“ a product does the same job in the same way. For example, pizzerias DoDo and Papa John’s.
  • Secondary competition โ€“ products do the same job in different ways. For example, take business meetings: they can take place remotely or offline in the office. Such a “job” can be performed by a Beijing-New York flight, or simply by a messenger for calls such as Zoom.
  • Indirect competition โ€“ products perform different jobs with conflicting results. For example, Dima likes to eat burgers, but at the same time wants to be sporty. McDonald’s burger and Xiaomi fitness bracelet solve different problems, but fight for the same target audience.

To move forward, you need to make the “outcome” of the other product less attractive in the eyes of the user, or reposition the product so that the “outcomes” are no longer in conflict.

How to apply it in practice?

It should be understood that Jobs To Be Done is not a tool, but only a theory that helps to understand how people make decisions, how they choose and how they use a product in the future.

The theory of “jobs” does not replace any existing approaches and work schemes: if you have your own processes in your company, for example, you use Customer Development or CJM maps, then all this can be well supplemented with the concept of Jobs To Be Done.

And here’s what needs to be done to implement it:

  • first, it is necessary to determine the goals and objectives of the research;
  • then formulate hypotheses that need to be tested;
  • conduct surveys or interviews of potential customers;
  • start working with the data received during the conversation;
  • compile Job Stories based on the received data;
  • at the last stage, start creating a product that will bear fruit.


The concept of Jobs To Be Done is a “job” to be done by a specific product or service. It helps to create really cool things – they will not lie on the table and will be used by those who need them.

Above we have covered only the basic definitions of the concept, based on which you can imagine how it works. Focus on the user’s problems and help them move from “need to do” to “done”.

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