Unleash the power of “Jobs to be done”

From the start

You’ve been running your customer interviews, and you got more tangible information about your customers’ jobs (functional, emotional, social) and needs. You begin to have a consolidated view on the tangible value that users are expecting. Now what?

Jobs to be done canvas

Bring perspective using customers aspirations

As you’ve seen in your customer discovery process, asking a WHY enables to understand the customer’s aspirations, or higher level jobs. But there is an opportunity that we usually miss. Asking a why also enables to identify alternatives solutions also called “competing solutions” to get a same job done. Going beyond traditional market boundaries to address new customers a.k.a strategic spaces is a key principle of the Blue Ocean’s strategy. As an example from the Blue Ocean’s book itself: a restaurant and a cinema may not be competing from a functional jobs standpoint, but they are competing from bigger job or aspirational standpoint: Spend a good time at evening downtown.

Use customer aspirations to spot relevant alternatives solutions
Customer needs canvas — alternative solutions

Going further with the satisfaction matrix

Traditionally, product managers focus on what we call “underserved needs”, meaning highly important customer jobs with current market offering not being satisfactory:

Traditional focus on underserved needs
Satisfaction matrix — Opportunity to exclude
Satisfaction matrix — Opportunity to attenuate

Pick your battles, spot hidden gems

You JTBD framework will allow you to easily map your product strategy and development efforts, and have a common language internally across your teams. Combining with Blue Ocean strategy is very powerful. Here below, I spotted the opportunities to exclude or attenuate, and the needs that we need to strive on delivering if we want to differentiate in the eyes of the customers. Your customers’ needs mapping becomes this:

jobs to be done needs mapping
Customers needs canvas — pick your battle
Jobs to be done needs mapping to spot hidden market opportunitites

Segment users per affinity of needs

Your JTBD framework is a great opportunity to switch your product management mindset, to get rid of the traditional “per industry” or “per product” bias. When you have sufficient amount of data, ask your data engineers or scientists to draw cohorts of users on a per need basis, also called needs based personas. I like this approach as it goes beyond the usual demographics, behavioural, psychographics personas. It’s likely you won’t see relevant patterns at first, but the more tangible and accurate data you have, the more this data visualisation exercise gets interesting. It also matters internally in the organisation that aims to be product/customer centric (See my article here on the matter). You can now, for each segment see the jobs that are more relevant to address customer needs of segment 1 and segment 2.

Segment users per affinity needs
Customer jobs as entry point of value proposition canvas- Strategyzer source

Wrapping-up and important considerations

The above information are relevant to me and reflect my experience, and it maybe won’t be relevant for you. Beware of cognitive bias or a Barnum effect:

  • In some markets, attenuating needs is a bad idea (e.g hardware specialised markets, examples given in my article here).
  • You won’t always be able to extract cohort of users based on needs affinity. This actually requires a consistent amount of data and customer interviews. That’s ok if you can’t extract this from your data during first interviews. Again, it will show up in due time. Be patient and disciplined.
  • use the satisfaction matrix to spot underserved needs, AND exclusion AND attenuation opportunities
  • Spot market hidden gems in your product strategy, needs that are underserved by multiple alternative solutions is an interesting indicator
  • (Advanced data only) create cohorts of customers using needs based personas. Fuel your go to market strategy with it and build a value proposition for each segment.



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