Jobs to be Done has been growing in appeal in recent times. It is a functional and rigorous approach to generating innovation opportunities that offers an alternative to the classic ‘ideation’ style that that has been so popular in the past decade.
The promise of JTBD
JTBD uses specialist techniques to identify unmet needs people have when carrying out seemingly straightforward tasks. If carried out carefully, JTBD may identify a wide range of unmet needs in situations that people are highly dissatisfied with that indicate promising innovation opportunities.
The benefits of JTBD are primarily:
  • Innovation in mature categories is achievable
  • A prioritisation of unfulfilled needs, providing a roadmap for innovation
  • The solutions for innovation easily present themselves (and they do!)
Clicked has had the opportunity to use JTBD with a client over a 4-month period to identify new features required for an app that was considering expanding into a new usage occasion. The project was highly productive and we have continued to work with the client on separate projects using the same technique.
Our approach – generating distinct unmet needs
There are a handful of agencies who specialise in the approach. Strategyn has, in our view, the best model and we used a pared down approach for this particular project.
1. We determined the ‘Overall Job’ that needed to be carried out. This is the overarching job for which the app, tool, service or product is employed to do. For our project, an app was to be employed for a new usage occasion (lunchtime), so we took care to define the new usage occasion in detail to ensure the territory for research was correct.
2. We carried out 32 qualitative depth interviews. The sample was very large as the usage occasion was of relevance to everyone in the UK, irrespective of age, gender, demographics etc.. The structure of the interviews was as follows:
  • We used the last time the user carried out the task (as buying lunch is an everyday task) to ensure memory was vivid
  • We broke it down into discrete stages with the user
  • We explored decision making within each stage
  • We created a job map (similar to a journey map)
  • We captured specific pain points
  • We then determined what a ‘successful outcome’ would look like for each sub job
It’s important to consider the detail that we went into. Across the interviews, we captured over 75 decisions (resulting in successful outcomes) that needed to be made within the ‘Overall Job’ that needed to be done. The interviewing is extremely difficult because the moderator needs to use active listening throughout the interview, reflecting the decision making, checking specific needs and determining specific outcomes. We always had an additional moderator to help inject and test specific outcomes that the moderator had not identified.
3. After the qualitative stage, an important stage of analysis begins. A few weeks are required to carry out this stage successfully. Key tasks are to:
  • Develop a job map. This should capture the stages the user has move through to complete the job successfully. It may comprise of a number of stages, typically 8
  • .Analyse the ‘successful outcomes’ and look for duplicates across the interviews. We reduced our 75 decisions to 52. That meant we needed to develop 52 ‘outcome statements’.
  • Write the ‘outcome statements’. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the process – there is a requirement to ensure each statement is written in the same format to avoid bias in the next stage of research.
For many, stopping the process here is an option as it will be apparent from the qualitative interviews where the most pain lies and therefore where the opportunities for innovation are.
However, in our project there were a great many pain points and so we needed to be clear about which were more apparent to people in the UK population.
Our Approach – creating a hierarchy of unmet needs
4. To determine a robust hierarchy of needs (outcomes) that are most attractive to develop, quantitative research and analysis is required. The approach was as follows:
  • Screen people for relevance – they need to be carrying out the overall job
  • Develop profiling / attitudinal questions so you can determine who users are and, if required, segment them
  • Ask customers to score the ‘outcome statements’ in two ways:  How satisfied they are with the current situation as described in the outcome statement.  How important it is to improve the situation
5. Pull the research findings together with quantitative analysis. There are various scoring systems that are used to determine when an outcome statement is sufficiently dissatisfying and important enough to improve, to make it a strong contender for innovation.
We developed our own score as we found that the outcome statements differed marginally and greater distinction was required. This meant that of the 52 outcomes, or needs, around 8 were strong contenders for innovation.
Additionally, we created a needs based segmentation. By analysing the users that scored outcome statements highly or lowly, we were able to identify the user types that were most likely to benefit from the new and improved app.
6. Finally, use the research results to identify innovation opportunities. This was surprisingly easy and powerful. Most innovators know that the innovation process is usually fraught with difficulty and so it was refreshing to feel confident that the ideas we developed were genuinely required by users:
  • Use the job map heavily for innovation
  • We pinned core outcomes that were unfulfilled
  • These outcomes were granular and in isolation were not inspiring but when grouped into specific areas the ideas for new features were easily spotted
  • For each of the 8 outcomes, we quickly identified a range of features that would solve the pain users were experiencing
  • This ideas were used to create a hierarchy of features, fulling a long backlog of work to keep developers engaged for quite some time
In simple terms, it works. It confidently predicts core unmet needs and intuitively suggests innovation ideas. The client used the ideas to generate a prototype that went into private beta.
It is a difficult technique to master, primarily in two areas; 1, the interview moderation, which stretches the most experienced moderator to think quickly and clearly about customer needs, and 2, the generation of outcome statements that are not biased, leading or irrelevant.
It is also time consuming. It took 4 months and we think we could shave a few weeks off – but to do this right, it needs time.
If you would like to learn more, please drop us a line via the contact page and we would be happy to discuss the technique and how it could be applied your business.