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Applying Jobs-to-be-Done Theory to build successful products

People purchase products and services to get a “job” done to make progress in their life. We use Jobs-to-be-Done to understand the progress people are trying to make in their lives, how they are currently achieving that progress, and the forces at play when switching solutions.

Introduction to Jobs-to-be-done

People are always evaluating where they are in life and deciding where they want to be. They’re looking to make progress to make them better versions of themselves and improve their situation in life.

Switch Interviews

Let’s pretend that we’re making a documentary about your purchase…

Switch Interviews are a timeline-based interview to help us understand the forces at play when switching to a new solution created by Bob Moesta and the Rewired Group. It will inform our understanding of a user’s switch/purchase timeline and help us build a forces diagram. It helps see how users are framing competition for the Job-to-be-Done and gives us an idea of pricing.

Conduct a Switch Interview

Jobs Profile and Forces Diagram

After we conduct Switch Interviews, we’ll listen to the recording of the interview again and add detail into a doc Highlight emotion Highlight their language

Create a Jobs Profile and Forces Diagram

Jobs Statement

A Jobs Statement is an alternative way of describing the problems and pain-points that we’re trying to solve for and the outcomes that users and the business expectations. It should propose the progress that the product is making for the people that are using it.

Jobs Statement Format

[Pain-point / Opportunity] + [Desired Outcome / Progress Made]

For many of our Product Design Sprints, we’ll create this statement together. As a team, review the research that you’ve collected and the insights that you’ve gained during interviews. On the whiteboard, work together to wordsmith the statement.

Image of examples of Job Statement on whiteboard

During the rest of the Design Sprint it acts as a guide to the ideas that we come up with and the solutions that we generate. It helps us decide which features we might want to validate and which should be shelved for the future or thrown away all together. Refer back to it throughout the sprint to create the smallest product to prototype and test.

After the design sprint, keep the statement as the left topmost card in the projects Trello board. This card acts as a reminder of the overarching Job-to-be-Done that we’re trying to solve. As we take on new cards in Trello, it allows us to continually question how the features we’re designing are helping us get to the outcomes in the statement. It also gives new people on the project a quick way to understand the core problems we’re trying to solve for and progress that we’re trying to make for the people using the product.

Image of examples of Job Statement in Trello

Jobs Stories

Jobs Stories are a Jobs-to-be-Done way to write out feature stories. Instead of providing solutions, Jobs Stories communicate the value that our designers and developers are creating for the user and the business. They frame the progress that the user is trying to make, the outcomes that we want for the business and users, and put more focus on the situation the user is in. Building this understanding allows us to question how we’re solving it, together, as a team.

Jobs story format:

When [Situation] I want [Motivation] So that [Desired Outcome]

Image of example of Jobs Story Image of example of Jobs Story Image of example of Jobs Story

Why we prefer Jobs Stories over User Stories

In our experience, user stories are more solution and task-oriented. They leave the team less room to work on solutions together and instead have solutions handed down to them. User stories are great when your team doesn’t need additional context.

We believe that solving problems together generates the best outcomes and want to validate all solutions before taking the time to build them.


What does success look like for your project?

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