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A variety of models exist for defining business strategies. All with basics about on understanding markets, customer needs and defining our strategic differentiation. I have found the approach starting with jobs to be done (JTBD) for customers to be powerful.
Define jobs to be done for your customer
The model focus on which jobs customers hire us to do. Each “job to be done” represents an outcome our customers expect our products and services to deliver. And by redefining the job to be done your business strategy can evolve to serve a market better.
Each job to be done has an associated success metrics. A measure defining the expected outcome with pre-defined parameters. A crisp job to be done and clear metrics give you a view of what matters. Part of job to redefine a market can be to alter success criteria.
The jobs to be done model represent a bottom-up approach. Where the analysis start from crisp job articulations matching customer needs today. With a prediction of how needs might change the job in the future. A change where the current job can fit in one of 3 possible market, e.g. Unserved, Overserved or Underserved markets. For all three situations there is an underlying need you need to address.
Unserved markets or segments
The first possibility is customers decide to not hire someone to address their need. They have a clear need, but lack solutions or find existing solutions too expensive.
In this scenario we face the challenge to define a new job to be done. Based on our understanding of a new way for how you can address the customer need. Or define a success metrics with new price levels or more attractive business models.
In daily life we can compare this with cleaning and ironing shirts. A job your household do if there are no cleaners available or if cleaners are too expensive.
Overserved markets or segments
The second possibility is about products and services you use today. But where you would consider a leaner and cheaper alternative. Your needs are more than satisfied. This scenario is common in markets and segments where one size fits all offerings dominate the market.
In this case the task is about eliminating parts of the job done today. Taking out low value elements for a segment of your existing market. Where the critical choices are both what to take out and how much you lower price or chnage model. Addressing overserved markets and segments allow you to keep customers you are at risk losing.
In daily life this is the cleaner with excellent service. Always same day delivery in exchange for a premium price. Or where a superior cleaning option is overkill for your customer.
Underserved markets and segments
The third category represent customers willing to pay more for a superior offering to what they buy today. The root cause is a need not fully addressed today. In combination with a clear willingness to pay substantially more than today.
The challenge here is to understand the specific needs yet to be served. And the associated metrics quantifying the value increase. Both parameters are central to define a different job to be done with a clear willingness for premium pay.
In the cleaning analogy this could be about an ironing option protecting certain types of buttons. Where ironing machines ruin sensitive buttons and expensive shirts get clean but ruined.
What this model can deliver to your business
The first benefit is razor focus on customer needs and clarity up front and what outcomes to deliver. With well-defined jobs to be done the outcomes are given when crafting value propositions. And the future is about being crisp on the outcomes your offering need to deliver.
The second benefit is you can use the model to craft strategies for all three scenarios. Part of dealing with growing market complexity is about customization. A reality where parts of your current market can overserved or underserved. With an untapped potential in unserved segments.
The third benefit is the jobs to be done can become the anchor for how you set up your organization. Organizing around jobs to be done is a natural way to secure the execution of your new business strategy.
Questions for you and your team
- How do you articulate the jobs you do for customers today – to get used to the model start by articulating the jobs you already do.
- Which unserved, overserved or underserved segments do we see – explore each type as possible future avenues.
- What are the needs a new job should focus on addressing – defined as crisp as possible.
- What metrics define the job to be done – current and future.
- How would you define the new job to be done – representing your strategy pivot.
- Which assets can play a role in defining your business execution advantages – balance against the identified shift.
- How do you need to change your operations to deliver on the new job – taking your strategy from drawing board into full execution.
Additional reading suggestions
- Competing against luck – the story of innovation and customer choice [BOOK] – by Clayton M. Christensen
- Jobs to be done – A road-map for customer centered innovation [BOOK] – by Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman, and Dave Farber
- The “jobs to be done” theory of innovation [ARTICLE] – by Harvard Business Review
- 6 steps to put Christensesn jobs to be done theory into practice [ARTICLE] – by Forbes
- Know your customers’ “jobs to be done” [ARTICLE] – by Harvard Business Review
- Learning jobs to be done from 5 SuperBowl Ads [BLOGPOST] – by Eric M. White, JTBD.info
- Customer centered innovation map [BLOGPOST] – by Strategyn
- Jobs to be done – a roadmap for customer centric innovation [AUDIOBOOK] – by Stephan Wunker, Jessica Wattman and David Farber
- The jobs to be done organization [BLOGPOST] – by Innosight
My interest for this technique has been triggered by Peder Linder at Linder Academy. A great source for insights on this subject. And any misinterpretations of the model are mine, and powerful insights come from Peder.
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