Jobs-to-be-Done Theory has major implications when it comes to knowing all your customer’s needs. How many people in your organization today know all your customer’s needs? Imagine if they all shared a common understanding of what a need is. How would decision-making improve if everybody in your organization had knowledge of all your customer’s needs? How much more effective would your product and marketing teams be if it were possible to determine with a high level of confidence exactly what customer needs are underserved? What possibilities would arise if it became possible to discover segments of customers with unique sets of unmet needs? Knowledge of all the customer’s needs changes everything. So how can it be achieved?

Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Professor Clayton Christensen said, “People buy products and services to get a job done.”  And, in his most recent book he says: “Customers don’t buy products; they pull them into their life to make progress.

These are the basic constructs of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, but these constructs are only the tip of the iceberg.

Jobs-to-be-Done Theory has a game-changing implication:

It provides a framework for (i) categorizing, defining, capturing, and organizing all your customer’s needs, and (ii) tying customer-defined performance metrics (in the form of desired outcome statements) to the Job-to-be-Done.

Because customers are loyal to getting a job done, customers will switch to new solutions when they are able to get the job done significantly better. In our experience, new products that get the job done 20 percent better or more are very likely to win in the marketplace. Knowing that a product will get the job done 20 percent or more is the key to predictable innovation. ODI makes this possible.


While applying Jobs-to-be-Done Theory over the past 25 years, I developed the Jobs-to-be-Done Needs Framework:


This framework introduces the types of customer needs that must be considered to gain a deep understanding of what a customer is trying to accomplish. They include:

(i) the core functional Job-to-be-Done,
(ii) the desired outcomes tied to the core functional Job-to-be-Done,
(iii) related jobs,
(iv) emotional and social jobs,
(v) consumption chain jobs, and
(vi) the buyer’s financial desired outcomes.

While a job describes the overall task the customer is trying to execute, an outcome is a metric the customer uses to measure success and value while executing a job. For every functional and consumption chain job there exists a set of up to 50 or more desired outcome statements.

The Jobs-to-be-Done Needs Framework reveals the complexity involved in understanding all the needs in a market. It is not as if the customer has a handful of needs, or that there is just one customer. A diverse group of customers in a given market often collectively have well over 100 needs. In more complex markets such as health care and social media, customers may have 200 needs or more.

The framework brings order to a historically chaotic practice, and underlies Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI), a proprietary process developed by me (and Strategyn) in 1991. ODI has been tested and refined through its use in hundreds of new product and service innovation initiatives in Fortune 1000 companies.

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JOBS TO BE DONE: Theory to Practice
by Anthony Ulwick
IDEA BITE PRESS October 25, 2016