Unlocking Innovation with Jobs to Be Done: A Practical Guide for Product Managers

In the world of product management, one of the most pivotal frameworks that have emerged over the past few years is the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) theory. At its core, JTBD helps us understand why customers "hire" products and services to get specific "jobs" done. This approach can profoundly impact how we develop, market, and innovate products. In this blog post, we'll dive into the concept of Jobs to Be Done, explore its benefits, and examine a real-world example to bring the theory to life.

Understanding Jobs to Be Done (JTBD)

The Jobs to Be Done framework was popularized by Clay Christensen, known for his work on disruptive innovation. The fundamental idea behind JTBD is that people don't just buy products or services; they hire them to accomplish specific jobs. When we understand the job that customers are trying to get done, we can create more effective solutions to meet their needs.

The Core Components of JTBD

  • Job: The task or goal that the customer is trying to achieve.
  • Functional Aspect: The practical or utilitarian aspect of the job (e.g., "I need a drink to quench my thirst").
  • Emotional Aspect: The emotional or social dimension of the job (e.g., "I want to feel relaxed when I drink my coffee").
  • Context: The specific circumstances under which the job arises (e.g., "I want a quick breakfast on my way to work").

Benefits of JTBD

Adopting the JTBD framework offers several benefits for product managers and teams:

  • Customer-Centricity: JTBD focuses on understanding the true needs and desires of customers, leading to more customer-centric solutions.
  • Innovation: By identifying unmet jobs, teams can develop innovative products or features that better serve customers.
  • Market Differentiation: A deep understanding of customer jobs enables better positioning and differentiation in the market.
  • Improved Communication: JTBD provides a common language for teams to discuss customer needs and align their efforts.

Applying JTBD: A Real-World Example

Let's consider a real-world example to illustrate how JTBD can be applied in product management. Imagine a company that produces a photo-sharing app. They notice that, despite having a large user base, engagement levels are dropping, and they want to understand why.

Step 1: Conduct Customer Interviews

To uncover the jobs that users are hiring the app for, the product team conducts in-depth interviews with active, inactive, and churned users.

Sample interview questions:
- Can you describe a time when you used our app recently?
- What were you trying to achieve when you used the app?
- How did using the app make you feel?
- Have you used any other apps for similar purposes?
- What frustrations or challenges did you experience?

Step 2: Identify the Jobs

Through the interviews, the team discovers several key jobs that users hire the app for:

  • Job 1: "I want to share memorable moments with my friends and family."
  • Job 2: "I want to create a personal gallery of my life events."
  • Job 3: "I want to explore and get inspired by beautiful photos."

Each of these jobs has both functional and emotional aspects. For example, for Job 1, the functional aspect is sharing photos quickly and easily, while the emotional aspect is feeling connected to loved ones.

Step 3: Analyze the Jobs and Context

The team then analyzes the context in which these jobs arise. They discover that users find it cumbersome to upload and tag photos, and that the app's discovery features are not as engaging as competitors' offerings.

Step 4: Develop Solutions

Based on the insights gained from the JTBD analysis, the product team develops several solutions:

  • Improve Upload Experience: Simplify the photo upload process with drag-and-drop functionality and auto-tagging features.
  • Enhance Discovery: Introduce a personalized feed that curates photos based on user interests and past interactions.
  • Create Social Features: Develop features that allow users to create shared albums and collaborate on photo collections with friends and family.

Step 5: Test and Iterate

The team releases these new features in a phased manner and collects user feedback to measure their impact. They continuously iterate based on this feedback to ensure the app meets the identified jobs effectively.

Lessons Learned

Through this process, the product team learned several valuable lessons:

  • Deep Customer Understanding is Key: Understanding the jobs customers are trying to get done provides a clearer direction for development and innovation.
  • Iterative Development: Continuously testing and iterating on solutions based on user feedback ensures that the product evolves in a way that truly meets customer needs.
  • Balancing Functional and Emotional Aspects: Addressing both functional and emotional aspects of jobs leads to more holistic and satisfying user experiences.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Effective application of JTBD requires collaboration across product, design, and development teams to create well-rounded solutions.


The Jobs to Be Done framework offers a powerful lens for understanding customer needs and driving product innovation. By focusing on the jobs that users hire your product for, you can develop solutions that are more aligned with their real-world needs and preferences. Implementing JTBD in your product management process can lead to more customer-centric products, ultimately driving engagement and satisfaction.

Have you used the JTBD framework in your product management practices? Share your experiences, insights, and challenges in the comments below! Let's continue the conversation and learn from each other's journeys.