Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

In his groundbreaking Harvard Business Review article, The Customer-Centered Innovation Map, Strategyn Founder Tony Ulwick introduces a jobs-to-be-done framework that turns the fundamentals of  jobs-to-be-done thinking into an innovation practice. This framework enables companies to deconstruct a job that customers are trying to get done into specific process steps. The resulting job map, provides a structure that makes it possible, for the first time, to capture all the customer’s needs and to systematically identify opportunities for growth.

The Job Map

All jobs have the same eight steps. To use the jobs-to-be-done framework, look for opportunities to help customers at every step:

During this step…
Companies can innovate by…
1: Define
Determine their goals and plan resources.
Simplifying planning.
Weight Watchers streamlines diet planning by offering a system that doesn’t require calorie counting.
2: Locate
Gather items and information needed to do the job.
Making required inputs easier to gather and ensuring they’re available when and where needed.
U-Haul provides customers with prepackaged moving kits containing the number and types of boxes required for a move.
3: Prepare
Set up the environment to do the job.
Making set-up less difficult and creating guides to ensure proper set-up of the work area.
Bosch added adjustable levers to its circular saw to accommodate common bevel angles used by roofers to cut wood.
4: Confirm
Verify that they’re ready to perform the job.
Giving customers information they need to confirm readiness.
Oracle’s ProfitLogic merchandising optimization software confirms optimal timing and level of a store’s markdowns for each product.
5: Execute
Carry out the job.
Preventing problems or delays.
Kimberly-Clark’s Patient Warning System automatically circulates heated water through thermal pads placed on surgery patients to maintain their normal body temperature during surgery.
6: Monitor
Assess whether the job is being successfully executed.
Linking monitoring with improved execution.
Nike makes a running shoe containing a sensor that communicates audio feedback about time, distance, pace, and calories burned to an iPhone or iPod worn by the runner.
7: Modify
Make alterations to improve execution.
Reducing the need to make alterations and the number of alterations needed.
By automatically downloading and installing updates, Microsoft’s operating systems remove hassle for computer users. People don’t have to determine which updates are necessary, find the updates, or ensure the updates compatible with their operating system.
8: Conclude
Finish the job or prepare to repeat it.
Designing products that simplify the process of concluding the job.
3M makes a wound dressing that stretches and adheres only to itself-not to patients’ skin or sutures. It thus offers a convenient way for medical personnel to secure dressing at the conclusion of treatment and then remove them after a wound has healed.


The Idea in Brief

We all know that people “hire” products to get jobs done. Office workers hire word-processing software to create documents. Surgeons hire scalpels to dissect soft tissue. But few companies keep this in mind while searching for ideas for breakthrough offerings. Instead, they rely on inquiry methods (such as customer interviews) that don’t generate the most promising ideas or exhaustive sets of possibilities.

To systematically uncover more-and better-innovative ideas, Ulwick recommends first using the jobs-to-be-done framework to break down the job that customers want done into discrete steps. Then brainstorm ways to make steps easier, faster, or unnecessary.

For example, while cleaning clothes, people don’t notice stubborn stains until they’ve taken the clothes from a dryer and started folding them. If they find a stain, they must repeat the job. A washer that detects persistent stains and takes appropriate action before consumers execute the rest of the job would have huge appeal.

Mapping a Customer Job

To find ways to innovate, use the jobs-to-be-done framework to deconstruct the job a customer is trying to get done. By working through the questions here, we can map a customer job in a handful of interviews with customers and internal experts.

We start by understanding the execution step, to establish context and a frame of reference. Next, we examine each step before execution and then after, to uncover the role each plays in getting the job done.

To ensure that we are mapping job steps (what the customer is trying to accomplish) rather than process solutions (what is currently being done), we ask ourselves the validating questions below at each step.

Validating Questions

As defined, does the step specify what the customer is trying to accomplish, or is it only being done to accomplish a more fundamental goal? Does the step apply universally for any customer executing the job, or does it depend on how a particular customer does the job?

  • Defining the execution step: what are the most central tasks that must be accomplished in getting the job done?
  • Defining pre-execution steps: what must happen before the core execution step to ensure the job is successfully carried out?
  • Defining post-execution steps: what must happen after the core execution step to ensure the job is successfully carried out?

Uncovering Opportunities for Innovation

With the jobs-to-be-done framework in hand, we can begin to look systematically for opportunities to create value. The questions below can guide us in our search and help us avoid overlooking any possibilities. A great way to begin is to consider the biggest drawbacks of current solutions at each step in the map-in particular, drawbacks related to speed of execution, variability, and the quality of output. To increase the effectiveness of this approach, we invite a diverse team of experts-marketing, design, engineering, and even some lead customers-to participate in this discussion.

Opportunities at the job level

  • Can the job be executed in a more efficient or effective sequence?
  • Do some customers struggle more with executing the job than others (for instance, novices versus experts, older versus younger?)
  • What struggles or inconveniences do customers experience because they must rely on multiple solutions to get the job done?
  • Is it possible to eliminate the need for particular inputs or outputs from the job?
  • Is it necessary that the customers execute all steps for which they are currently responsible? Can the burden be automated or shifted to someone else?
  • How many trends affect the way the job is executed in the future?
  • In what contexts do customers most struggle with executing the job today? Where else or when else might customers want to execute the job?

Opportunities at the step level

  • What causes variability (or unreliability) in executing this step? What causes execution to go off track?
  • Do some customers struggle more than others with this step?
  • What does this step’s ideal output look like (and in what ways is the current output less than ideal?)
  • Is this step more difficult to execute successfully in some contexts than others?
  • What are the biggest drawbacks of current solutions used to execute this step?
  • What makes executing this step time-consuming or inconvenient?


To identify opportunities for innovation, some companies focus on product leadership, some on operational excellence, and some on customer intimacy. Some offer services; others offer goods. Regardless of which business model a company chooses, the fundamental basis for identifying opportunities for growth is the same. When companies understand that customers hire products, services, software, and ideas to get jobs done, they can use our jobs-to-be-done template to dissect those jobs to discover the innovation opportunities that are the key to growth. The jobs-to-be-done framework is an integral part of our innovation process, Outcome-Driven Innovation.


Source: Strategyn


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