Jobs To Be Done

Balance new understanding of the Jobs To Be Done Innovation Theory by learning about its background and the value it can create for organizations and their customers. Additionally in Part 2, supported through a framework example for how to apply the theory to practical use cases inside marketing and product innovation.

Jobs To Be Done is an innovation theory developed by famed management consultant and professor Clayton Christensen that seeks to develop solutions for customers based around real needs, shifting both mindset and approach to building and creating value for both customers and shareholders.

While originating in the field of innovation, the theory and model can be adapted and used also in communications where work is designed to meet one of or combination of a customers functional, emotional and social needs.

People don’t buy products or brands, they hire solutions that get jobs done.

Clayton Christensen

McDonald’s wanted to improve its milkshake sales. The company started by segmenting its market both by product (milkshakes) and by demographics (a marketer’s profile of a typical milkshake drinker). Next, the marketing department asked people who fit the demographic to list the characteristics of an ideal milkshake (thick, thin, chunky, smooth, fruity, chocolaty, etc.). The would-be customers answered as honestly as they could, and the company responded to the feedback. But alas, milkshake sales did not improve.

Find out how McDonald’s used the JTBD framework to get at the root of their customers need.


Step 1

Individually begin with a short reflection; think about a recent purchase you made in the last 6 months that really mattered to you or made a difference in your life?

Step 2

Assemble into groups of 2 or 3 people. Briefly, all share their recent purchase and then select one group member to be interviewed and the other(s) explore the purchase by digging deeper into the experience through the below framework of questions as examples. Spend 5-10 minutes on the interview and 5 minutes to debrief and articulate the job to be done.

When did you first think about the purchase and what was happening in your life around then?
When did you purchase the product?
Where were you?
How did you purchase the product?
When did you first realize you [needed something to solve your problem]?
What were you doing, or trying to do when this happened?
Tell me about how you looked for a product to solve your problem.
What kind of solutions did you try? Or not try? Why or why not?
Did you ask anyone else about what they thought about the purchase you were about to make?
Before you purchased did you imagine what using the product would be like?
How did the purchase make you feel?

Step 3

As a group decide on one product/purchase to take further into the workshop and begin motivational mapping. Take 10 minutes to map out all the functional, emotional, and social needs the purchase resolved in the purchasers life, but also take a moment to identify the driving forces in the ultimate decision.

Step 4

Together prepare a Jobs-to-be-done statement using the template provided.

Explore Further

The jobs to be done action cards used in the digital storytelling summit were created by Hyper Island Co-Founder Jonathan Briggs. On the website for the cards you will find a blog and resources with updated thinking and further background on how to go deeper and leverage these cards and process to solve for client needs. Also serves as a great refresher to the content and experience of the workshop in the summit.