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Product Development and Jobs To Be Done Framework: Evaluating It Up Close

We’ve seen it all.

Companies launching new versions, releasing updates and even adding valuable new features to their products, all to give the user more reasons to stay loyal and “addicted” to the product.

The end result?

Users eager to gets their hands on the “new updated product.” Think iPhone.

While this “strategy” has been working for companies for gazillion years, many overlook the point that no user just decides to “buy” something, however, small the cost. Companies miss the causality of the decision to purchase. And that’s when products fail.

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, explains:

Something has to happen to you first. You’ve got a lot of things going on in your life and you don’t just wake up saying, “I’m going to buy this new thing today.” You might think that but really what happens is your purchases are sort of an answer to a question you’ve been asking to yourself, and getting to that question and getting to those situations is really valuable.”

In order for your products to succeed, you not only need to ask the right questions (things they liked and things they didn’t), but you also need to dig deeper and understand the causes and reasons why a user started using your product in the first place. In other words, what motivated their purchase decision?

For the product-focused company, these questions help reveal the user’s emotional needs behind their rational decisions.  

In a nutshell,  

That’s the premise for the ‘Jobs To Be Done Framework.’

Why is the  ‘Jobs To Be Done’ Theory Significant for Product Teams?

Companies today have ample data about their customers to build hypotheses and show correlations, allowing them to build patterns and better their product offerings. However, these correlations lack something extremely significant.

According to Harvard Business Review:

After decades of watching great companies fail, we’ve come to the conclusion that the focus on correlation—and on knowing more and more about customers—is taking firms in the wrong direction. What they really need to home in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance—what the customer hopes to accomplish.

When it comes to product teams, the ‘Jobs To Be Done’ theory is significant for four key reasons:

#1 Lets Product Team Provide a Central Solution for Users

Why do consumers prefer food shopping at large supermarkets as opposed to smaller specialty stores? The answer is simple: people do not want to make multiple stops. They literally want “one-stop shopping,” which correlates to your users wanting one ‘pit-stop’ or ‘product’ to maximize their efficiency. In this case, a grocery supermarket being THE product.

By applying this theory while developing a product, companies can build a central solution for their users while providing the maximum value.

#2 Helps Teams Create Features That Enable Users to Get More Jobs Done

As with nature, companies must evolve or perish. They need to introduce features and upgrades to keep the user hooked on to their product. The JBD theory explains products like Nespresso or a Swiss knife: they provide value by getting more  “jobs” done from a single product, while also catering to the users’ “emotional responses.”

#3 Makes Product Teams See From A User’s Eye

Product teams often follow a pre-set roadmap. This can make them overlook seeing things from a user’s perspective, losing opportunities for valuable innovation.

A good example of this is Kindle, which helped solve the problem of screen fatigue by introducing the backlit screen. This showed real understanding and innovation from a user’s point-of-view! Comparable e-readers are more focused on features such as the built-in dictionaries, but they can’t compete with the  Kindle’s emphasis on the user experience.

#4 Build a Profitable and Longer Product Shelf Life

The truth is that most products become obsolete as users continue to find new ones that “help” them get jobs done faster. By building products that focus on JBD, companies can achieve a longer shelf-life for their products – users will continue to use the products they have as long as they keep getting the results that they want.  

This continued Jobs Done satisfaction will, in turn, influence the user’s positive outlook on your company and your product, they will happily pay to use it.

How To Apply JBD Theory To Products – Asking The Right Questions

Jobs To Be Done is a great theory that allows you to read your users’ minds and apply that knowledge to build products that last. By understanding how your product helps improve your users’ lives, you can better evaluate your funnel and influence users to constantly “hire” your product.

In the words of Matt Hodges, Director of Marketing at Intercom:

“Once you understand the job, understanding how to improve your product becomes much more obvious”

Matt Hodges on Marketing the Job to be Done – V2

To effectively apply this theory to your product you need to first understand what jobs your users are hiring your product for. The answer to this will help you identify the cracks and build a superior product flow at all levels. Intercom split its product offering into 4 distinct categories, each helping a user with unique ‘Jobs-to-be-done,’ and 5Xed their growth!

Here are some types questions that will help you unearth your customer’s intentions:

What are the right questions?

  • Ask questions that encourage users to discuss  the point of purchase

Questions about when and how users made a purchase can reveal a lot about their state of mind at the time. If you can recreate their purchase experience you can understand the emotional and rational reasons behind it.

  • Ask questions that make them recall their first thoughts

Questions that encourage users to recall their first thoughts about the product can help you uncover the problems that they wanted to solve with this product. This will help you build hidden use-cases, uncover the triggers, and discover the ways people solve problems using your product.

First thought about product purchase can yield critical info about user preferences
Image Source
  • Decode the consideration phase

What leads someone to make a purchase? You might never forget that great pair of shoes that you loved so much, but do you remember deciding to buy them? Understanding this decision-making requires an insight into the user at the time of the purchase. You might think that there’s a straight line from a user having a requirement to the purchase of your product, but that’s not the full picture. Between these two points – requirement and purchase – lies a consideration phase.

A consideration set is a prioritized understanding of the purchase options someone weighs before making a purchase decision.”

Consideration Phase
Image Source

Asking questions that lead to unearthing more about a user’s consideration will help you evaluate how they explore the market, what makes them decide, and what made them choose your product over others.

  • Ask questions that dig into the emotions

Ask questions that dig into the emotional state of the user at the time they were purchasing your product. For example, was the user worried or uncertain, or were there other roadblocks that could have prevented a purchase?

The answers to these types of questions can help you pinpoint their anxieties and motivations when making that purchase, enabling you to build a better onboarding and activation process for them.

Implementing a ‘Jobs To Be Done’ theory may be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Ask leading questions to learn about your users: their insecurities, anxieties, and prejudices. But what’s more important is to have a balanced attitude while evaluating their answers, because that’s the best way to build a great product!

Have you used this theory? How has it helped you in shaping your product? Share your experiences in the comments below.



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