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How to Craft a Job Statement

In last week’s article, we defined a “job” as a task, objective, or a goal a person or organization is trying to accomplish, or a problem they are trying to resolve. The “job” is the purpose of why customers hire products and services in the first place. Customers have jobs that arise regularly and need to get done. Customers “hire” products and services to get their jobs done.

Knowing why a person is trying to get a job done, the circumstances they face in getting the job done, and their definition  and measurement of desired outcomes, helps us frame a customer’s needs and wants from their perspective – not ours.

For example a home-fixer-upper may need a “quarter inch hole” to complete the assembly of a home improvement project, and hires a quarter inch drill and hand drill to get the job done. Or perhaps an assembly technician may periodically need to modify parts that requires a quarter inch hole for bolting. Because of her circumstances (i.e. working with sheet metal and limited bench space), she (or a decision maker in the consumption chain) hires a quarter inch hand punch to get the job done.

Two different jobs, with similar requirements, but two different solutions that gets the job done best under different circumstances.

Defining and scoping the opportunity with a “Job Statement”

A job statement is used to describe a job-to-be-done (J2BD)  A job statement should explain who has the job, what they’re trying to get done, and the context in which the job occurs. A job statement has the following construct:

[Customer] wants to [solve a problem] in [this circumstance]

In the example above, the person “who has the job” is the assembly technician. The person (or persons) who has the job is also called the job executor. What our job executor  is trying to get done is make a quarter inch hole on parts moving on an assembly line.

The circumstances the assembler faces is that the quarter inch hole needs to be made in a piece of 1/8” aluminum sheet metal as work in progress on the assembly line. Time, accuracy (where the hole is located) and skill levels are additional constraints that need to be addressed.

For our  home-fixer-upper, he wants to add a quarter inch bolt clearance hole to  a cabinet frame  to mount on a wall. Because it’s too difficult to pre drill the cabinet (the beam location is unknown) he needs to do the drilling during installation (circumstance).

Jobs-to-be-done have both functional and emotional aspects

The jobs described in our examples above are primarily functional jobs. A functional job describe the task that job executor wants to accomplish. Emotional jobs are related to feelings and perceptions, and as such they are subjective. There are two kinds of emotional jobs:

  1. Personal jobs describes how customers want to feel about themselves.

  2. Social jobs refers to customers want to be perceived by others.

For example, our home-fixer-upper customer wants to feel that he is handy and capable of creating high quality home improvement solutions. His personal job is to hire tools that complements his desire to be a craftsman.

Our assembly technician social job is to  be seen by her supervisors and peers as productive, organized and quality minded.  She wants to hire tools that fulfill her social job. Granted, a quarter inch punch isn’t a sign of social fulfillment, but the overall experience of doing great work consistently, aided by a quarter inch punch, is.  Which brings us additional considerations in defining jobs-to-be-done.

Primary Jobs, Job Trees  (Job Chains),  and Ancillary Jobs

A “primary job” is the fundamental problem or ultimate outcome a customer faces. In our examples, creating a quarter inch hole most likely is one of many jobs a customer needs to do to achieve his ultimate outcome.

For example, the ultimate outcome for our home-fixer-upper is to create an attractive and convenient storage space for all his tools. The quarter inch hole was just one step in a “job tree”  or “job chain” to get the primary job done. He has many more steps in his tree including, designing the cabinet, creating a bill of materials, purchasing the raw materials, making the cabinet pieces, assembling the pieces, finishing the cabinet, hanging the cabinet, etc.

From an opportunity perspective, we can focus on various jobs-to-be-done inside the job tree. For example we could provide a total set of “hole making solutions” for home fixer uppers, and own that job segment. Of course that would limit our scope and potential market opportunities. But that may be a winning and profitable strategy given our capabilities and the dynamics of the marketing playing field.

For the sake of example, let’s say our market strategy is to focus on jobs within a job tree. In this case jobs to be done are creating quarter inch holes (and other sized holes). By examining the customer’s job tree, we can identify ancillary jobs like driving and tightening screws, cutting and trimming wood, sanding and finishing. These ancillary jobs represent potential new opportunities for us to expand into. Each being a job-to-be-done in itself, while being a node of a primary job tree.

Framing Market Opportunities By Understanding The Jobs-To-Be-Done

The power of the Jobs-To-Be-Done innovation and NPD approach is that it frames market opportunities from the perspective of the customer, in terms that the customer understands and uses. So when a prospective customer sees our product offerings, they relate to it immediately and hire our solution because we took the time to understand what they really need to get done by executing specific jobs.

Much more to come – keep thinking in terms of what jobs do my customers really want to get done and why?

Here’s to quarter inch holes!


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