How to Use the Job to Be Done Canvas to Define Customer's Problem

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Piotr Golianek

Dec 30, 2021 • 9 min read
job_to_be_done_canvas_customer_needs

Businesses are always on the lookout for new ways to anticipate customer demand so they can lower the risk of taking a product to market which no one wants.

The Jobs To Be Done Canvas is a new framework which aims to help businesses do this. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the Job To Be Done framework, from advantages and disadvantages from when and how you can use it in your own product discovery.

What is the Job To Be Done framework?

The Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) theory attempts to quantify customer demand by outlining how and why people decide to purchase or adopt new products or services. Product managers, marketing teams, and business leaders use Jobs To Be Done in order to reduce the risk of going to market with solutions people don’t want and won’t buy. The Jobs To Be Done framework template makes it easy to put the JTBD theory into action.

JTBD theory claims that people shop and purchase new products and services to change their current situation in some way, or to make progress on their goals. This is where the name of the concept comes in: each purchase is the customers ‘job to be done’.

One practical example is when a team leader wants to help their team improve their collaboration and work more creatively. Their job isn’t done yet as there are still some constraints in place, such as the team working in siloes or being stuck in familiar patterns of working.

In order to achieve their goal (their Job To Be Done), the team leader needs to overcome the constraints which oppose this goal. This motivates them to look for new solutions.

Therefore, the interplay between constraints and goals creates a demand for new solutions.

In the JTBD framework, these events are called catalysts, and create an urgency which triggers the need for new products.

When people, such as the team leader in the above example, search for new solutions to help them reach their goals, they look for anything which will help them achieve progress towards it. In this example, it could be a tool, some team training, a consultant or so on. This range of options is called a choice set. It can often be very diverse and go beyond a specific product category.

When customers go through this process, they look for candidates to provide them with this solution. The Job To Be Done framework labels this part of the process as hiring. In the same way employers hire employees to fill a role, people hire products to get their jobs done.

Throughout the hiring process, people compare current solutions against their potential options and eventually ‘fire’ their current solution, hiring the new one to replace it. When a new solution appears trustworthy and original and successfully gets customers to see how it could work in place, this ultimately shapes the customer’s willingness to pay.

These concepts (constraints, demand for new solutions, catalysts, choice set, hiring and willingness to pay) form the key stages in the JTBD Canvas.

When and why to use the Job To Be Done Canvas

  • The Jobs to be Done Canvas template will help you when you need to analyse the demand creation and hiring parts of the process explained in the previous section.
  • You can also use this template to directly capture all the essential data points, for example after you have conducted customer interviews or other product discovery activities.
  • Alternatively, you can also use it to summarize the series of customer interviews and the conclusions you have drawn about the Jobs that customers are seeking to get done.

Essentially, Jobs To Be Done can be a vital tool at different stages of product development and will help you to focus in on what it is that customers are actually looking for.

How to use the Job To Be Done template

To use the template, start by conducting interviews with people who have recently bought your product or service, particularly those who recently switched to your product, as well as those who have been using it for a longer period of time. Once you have conducted these interviews, divide your findings into three stages:

Demand creation

  • You need to collaborate to note down the unmet needs of your ideal customer, listing their goals and the potential constraints stopping them from reaching those goals.
  • List out all the events, frustrations, experiences, and other catalysts that created demand or urgency during their shopping (or hiring) process.

Desired progress

  • Form groups and outline your insights in a short narrative about your ideal customer, including why they decided to make a change. Compare stories between groups and discuss the differences. You can use these stories later to inspire new ideas and reach alignment between your team a single story.
  • From your story, craft a simple Job to Be Done ‘statement’ expressing the key advantages your customers are looking for.
  • Identify ‘progress signals’ which capture how these customers know they are making progress towards their end goal.

Hiring

  • List the solutions, products, or services they hired, fired, and considered for their Job To Be Done.
  • Internally discuss each aspect of this hiring process. You can use sticky notes to highlight the elements that increased or decreased trust (using green/red colour coding) or made the product seem like it offered good or bad value for their money. Also capture aspects that seemed to help customers imagine how the product could be used and list factors that either made the products seem familiar or novel.

Once you have summarized your interviews in this way, use the data to inform changes to your marketing, product, or sales. This Jobs to be Done data will enable you to find your ideal customer and design products that appeal to them.

The benefits of using a Job To Be Done template

The jobs to be done theory can bring you a number of different benefits. As well as helping your internal teams to align and work more collaboratively and with greater insight, it will help you properly identify areas for value creation.

By taking the time to understand the different aspects of the JTBD template which inform a customer’s hiring decision with regards to products like yours, you can design a product journey which really speaks to their needs and enhance your chances of financial and reputational success when you do go to market. Ultimately this gives you the chance to drive revenue and become more competitive in your chosen market.

Disadvantages of using a Job To Be Done framework

One possible drawback to the JTBD template is that it can lead to your teams developing a product based on abstract or philosophical assumptions. An example of this is a customer who ultimately ‘wants to help animals’ - this is a far cry from someone who just wants to get their cat to use a litter tray, for example.

This abstract interpretation of customer demand can give rise to issues such as feature prioritization or make it difficult to identify strategic objectives, which can distract from more immediate design concerns such as a product’s usability or aesthetics. To make sure your product team doesn’t suffer from these issues, keep these considerations top of mind along with your customer’s specific needs.

Example of Job To Be Done Canvas

Below you can see a template of a Job To Be Done Canvas, with each of the sections you need to fill in along the way:

job_to_be_done_canvas_template

Source: The Job To Be Done Canvas

Assess the customer's current needs

Predicting and responding to customer demands is perhaps the most crucial activity a business can master; if you can effectively design solutions to meet these needs, you will ultimately sell more products and services.

But it is a difficult and ongoing process, and the Job To Be Done framework can be a great help in distilling what it is that influences a customer’s purchasing or hiring decisions and guide your teams to designing an optimum solution.

There are, as we’ve seen, some potential drawbacks, but if you are able to factor these into the development of your ideas and execution, you can still reap the potential benefits of the Job To Be Done template - more customers, happier customers and better revenue and sales.

So that’s it - you’re ready to begin using the Job To Be Done template for your own product design - but if you want to learn more about how it can be used or talk about whether it’s the best option for your business, get in touch with a Netguru expert today!

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Piotr Golianek

Piotr Golianek works as a Product Manager at Netguru.
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