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Compete to Win By Designing A Jobs-To-Be-Done Innovator’s Playbook

The Jobs-To-Be-Done (J2BD) innovation framework provides the structure and a repeatable process to dive deeply into a customer’s problem set by understanding the important jobs people do to achieve specific desired outcomes, and what gets in their way to achieving 100% satisfaction.

The salient point of the framework is that – it’s all about customers achieving their desired outcomes. Jobs are the activities and practices they do in achieving their desired outcomes You can think of jobs and outcomes as different sides of the same coin. Any points they struggle in getting their jobs done, is an opportunity to discover a wining product concept.

In past articles, I have covered how the J2BD innovation framework is used to discover problems worth solving, and creating differentiated solutions customers will hire over competing alternatives. In this article, I’ll discuss how to use the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework as the foundation to creating an innovation playbook to achieve your desired  business outcome: Market Success!

What is the Innovator’s Playbook?

The Innovator’s Playbook is the guide and roadmap an NPD team uses to discover problems worth solving, and creating differentiated solutions new and existing customers will hire over competing alternatives.

There are four key elements to the innovator’s playbook:

  1. Setting the direction of where a company will compete, and how it will win. This is also known as the business strategy and mission. The difference is we define the strategy using the jobs-to-be-done framework and terminology.

  2. The Design Thinker’s Triad of Success Criteria to define innovation road maps. The three core overlapping success elements – Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability – that must exist for a new product to be a market success.

  3. The Business Model Canvas to design a business model that delivers consistent value and delight to the targeted market segments. It provides us a simple and clear visualization to successfully address the Triad of Success Criteria

  4. The innovation time horizon map to focus and manage innovation resources on the right balance of projects –  sure bets and game changing new business opportunities. As well as provide a technology and marketing capabilities roadmap to compete successfully in the future.

Where do you start in designing your J2BD playbook?

First you need to define the playing field you choose to compete on and the game you choose to win. More than likely you have a definition of your business strategy. It should clearly state “where you compete (the playing field) and how you win the customers’ business and loyalty (the game and playbook).”

Perhaps your current playing field is no longer worth competing for. The game has gotten too crowded. There is very little differentiation between you and the other competitors. For all practical purposes, you are primarily competing on price. It’s a race to the bottom and no one wins that game.

Or perhaps the market playing field remains viable, but your direction has gotten so convoluted over time, it no longer  resonates with your customers and development team. It’s confusing and has  gotten stale. There are too many assumptions in play based on yesterday’s playbook.

As a result, your team just runs on auto pilot cranking out the same old solutions – the incremental me-too product doldrums. And customers are beginning to look elsewhere to hire solutions that are more relevant and promising.

You might be asking: “But now what? What are the playing fields out there where we can compete  and win?”

Taking a fresh look at your business strategy J2BD marketing lens

Even if your current business outlook is good, it’s wise to review and to take a different look at your business strategy periodically. To do that, you need a new perspective. This time through the eyes of your  customers (existing job executor’s), and potential future job executors (new customers). Start by asking:

  1. Why do customers hire our products and services?

  2. What outcome are they ultimately trying to achieve?

  3. What are the jobs they must do to achieve these outcomes?

  4. What jobs do we help them get done better in achieving these outcomes?

  5. How much of the job do they get done using our solutions?

  6. Under what circumstances are they trying to get their jobs done?

  7. What constraints do they face in executing their jobs?

  8. How can we improve our solutions to make the job executor’s life easier and happier?

And then take an extended look beyond current “jobs” you address. Explore new potential jobs that existing and potentially new customers might need help getting done better by asking:

  1. What other jobs along the job tree are job executor’s struggling with?

  2. Are these jobs we can help them get done better?

  3. What other ancillary jobs are customers trying to do that we could help them get done better?

Continue to explore other potential job executors:

  1. Who else out there might be trying to do similar jobs but perhaps with different circumstances and desired outcomes?

  2. If we can identify these groups of job executers, might we be able to adapt our solutions to fit their needs?

The answers to these questions will provide you a direction to focus your innovation around important jobs people need to get done.


Figure 1: Jobs and Job Executor Opportunity Matrix

We will explore in our next article how to integrate the Triad of Success Criteria into our innovation exploration, and the steps that follow to discovering and transforming great ideas into great new products.

Look differently through the eyes of the customer, and design your way forward to a vibrant future worth competing for.


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