Using Jobs to be Done Theory in Design

How can we design products that bring real value to users? Why do users choose one product over another? How do some products manage to disrupt and innovate while others stay stagnate? The answer lies in the ‘job’ a user is hiring a product to do. This is called Jobs To Be Done Theory.

David Herse – Using Jobs To Be Done Theory in Design

David tells the story…

Chapter 1: the journey is more important than the destination

David getting to the conference involved a choice between various transport options; and finding coffee; and checking if it was going to rain… It involved a lot of considerations, multiple applications, decisions and some time. This can be thought of as a timeline of decisions.

Chapter 2: how to beat the house

The failure rate of startups in the US is 60-90%. Reasons for that level of failure include…

  • ignoring customers (14%)
  • poor marketing (14%)
  • no market need (42%)

Basically they didn’t create or promote something that people actually wanted.

How do we provide value? Why do customers choose one product over another? How can we tip this in our favour?

Chapter 3: if you want to see clearly, use a switch

Simply asking people what they want doesn’t work, because people generally don’t express what they want – they imagine how they might behave.

Switch interviews focus on a timeline by talking to people who switched to or from a product in the past 60 days. Start at the purchase date, then work backwards to find out what led to it; and forward to what happened afterwards. This reveals what the first thought was, that leads to passive then active decision periods that result in a purchase.

Example: Research for selling audiobooks.

  1. First thought: my commute is boring, I’d like to do something constructive.
  2. Event 1: particularly long and boring commute.
  3. Event 2: struggling to find enough podcasts to listen to.
  4. Buying event: I’m wasting my time, I want to be productive. This is when they’d sign up for a trial of Audible.
  5. Experience phase: reference material like table and diagrams are hard to access.

Forces matrix: push/pull, anxieties, habits

  • push: 45min+ commute
  • pull: lots of content
  • anxiety: felt overwhelmed by the commitment to an audio book – they can take up to 36 hours to complete and people didn’t feel they could dip in and out of them
  • habit: podcasts, music

Chapter 4: to find treasure, you need a map

When David got into this theory there wasn’t a lot of information. He worked with a coworker to create something based on the Google Ventures design sprint idea.

A process:

  1. Draw out the timeline from first thought to experience.
  2. Map out the forces against the timeline, tagged as push or pull.
  3. Identify “how might we” opportunities, mapped to their context.
  4. Get some input from experts, ultimately come back to a vote on which HMW ideas to pursue.
  5. Ideation – flesh out solutions

Question: How might we allow people to easily access diagrams and tables when they are ready to?
Idea: Maybe feature that tracks the mentioned information for later reference

Question: How might we entertain people in a context that reduces their ability to watch a screen or use their hands?
Idea: Battle Howl, a game which is entirely vocal controlled.

These may not have been the greatest ideas ever, but the Jobs To Be Done system gives a common language to work together.

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