top of page
  • kmcgourty2

Understanding Circumstances, Constraints and Barriers People Face in Getting Their Jobs Done

Circumstances, constraints and barriers define the context and challenges customers face in executing their jobs to go from their present state of need and desire to their future state of satisfying desired outcomes, and is the third core principle of the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework.

Overcoming constraints and understanding the context a person faces in getting a job done can mean the difference between a customer being 100% satisfied and delighted verses being less than satisfied and looking for a better solution to hire the next time the customer needs to get the job done.

For example, perhaps a customer is on a business trip traveling in his car from LA to San Francisco on I5. He wants to stop and get a healthy meal, without spending too much time or money in getting his job done. Unfortunately all he can find are fast food chains, he would rather not eat there. (His circumstance.)

But it’s a long way to San Francisco (his constraint) and hunger has now overpowered him.  So he reluctantly decides to make a personal “sacrifice” and eat a burger and fries. His hunger is satisfied but his desired outcome to eat a healthy meal is unmet.

Had there been a convenient alternative restaurant along the way, perhaps he would not had made the sacrifice. Or perhaps if one of the fast food chains had a deeper understanding of travelers’ desired outcomes, they would have had a healthy meal to offer and promote to the healthy eaters.

Or perhaps there was a very nice place just off the highway up the road a bit he could have gone to. But because he had no awareness of it, he was unable to make a better choice. Perhaps if a location based service company had done a better job of targeting the business traveler with a job-to-be-done of  “eating healthy on the road” – they would have been hired as a trusted recommendation source the traveler would use regularly.

Overcoming constraints can provide a terrific opportunity to introduce a breakthrough product concept

Understanding how a new technology can overcome a specific constraint is a great strategy in defining winning solutions. For example, when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation  (SFA) software was first introduced to the market, the solutions were primarily targeted to larger enterprises.

These larger enterprises typically had the IT staff and capital resources to manage the integration, training and maintenance jobs. Small to midsize firms also wanted to improve their sales force effectiveness and better manage their customer relationships, but the then CRM and SFA solutions were too complex, expensive, and time consuming to learn. Effectively smaller and midsize firms were non-customers CRM and SFA solutions.

That is until new technologies enabled “software as a service,” now known as “cloud computing.” Innovative firms like and NetSuite created a solution that overcame critical constraints and barriers enabling a new segment of “job-executors.”

Establishing an initial market niche, in this case small and midsize business, enabled and NetSuite  to penetrate into the larger enterprise segment. A great example of a disruptive business and chasm crossing strategy.

Constraints and barriers that prevent non-customers from hiring a solution include:

  1. Complexity- customers find the solution too complex and believe they lack the skill set to “hire” the product and service

  2. Cost – the cost is too much for the customer to “hire” the product.

  3. Time Consuming –  it will take too much time for the customer to justify the service. Time to learn and time to execute are some examples.

  4. Convenience – it’s just not convenient enough for a customer to “fire” his old sold solution and hire a new one.  It may be to inconvenient to switch out an old technology for a new technology because the potential pay-off isn’t seen or understood.

Often disruptive solutions are born by addressing constraints with a “good enough” solution for a non-customer group, that according to disruption theory, will improve overtime and eventually become accepted by mainstream markets, often with a superior value compared to the existing incumbents’ solutions.

Disruptive Technology Theory

The Impact of Sustaining and Disruptive Technology Change

Understanding constraints and barriers provides critical insights to creating innovative solutions

What constraints and barriers do your existing customers and potential customers have, if you could eliminate, would result in creating and retaining new customers? As you apply the jobs-to-be-done innovation framework, start asking these questions to uncover untapped opportunities:

  1. What prevents customers from achieving 100% satisfaction in getting jobs done?

  2. What are the circumstances a customer faces in getting their job done?

  3. What constraints limit a customer from achieve 100% job satisfaction?

  4. What barriers prevent non-customers from “hiring” a solution?

One man’s constraints and barriers, is another man’s opportunity. Find out why people are struggling with getting their jobs done better, or why people won’t hire a job solution because of some limiting factor. You will discover a rich source of innovative concepts and create a new blue ocean you can compete and win in.

Knock down those barriers!


29 views0 comments


bottom of page