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A New Journey Map: Jobs to Be Done (Plus a Downloadable Template)

This article provides a recap of our webinar on March 26, 2020: A New Journey Map: Jobs to Be Done, plus offers additional resources. Watch the recording below:

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In the process of navigating the uncertainty of today’s world, companies across industries are having to quickly adapt to meet shifting customer needs. So far, we’ve seen:

  • Restaurants transitioning fully into off-premise dining
  • Financial services companies expanding digital touchpoints
  • Media providers addressing increasing demand

Many organizations are and will continue to rapidly roll out new products and new touchpoints with their customers. When it comes to new projects, we’ve found that how you start has a significant impact on the success of the initiative.

One of the things that successful digital leaders do is take a problem-first approach to new products, rather than an idea-first approach. In fact, only 5% of projects with an ideas-first approach are successful, vs. 86% of those with a problem-first approach.

JTBD graphic

What is the difference between an approach guided by a problem vs. an idea?

An idea-first approach is how about 70% of companies approach a new project: starting with many different ideas, and filtering out the ones that will likely fail (Source: Ulwick, Anthony. Jobs to be Done. 2016). The assumption is often that more ideas generated increases the likelihood of landing on one that will satisfy customers and uncover their unmet needs.

A problems-first approach, however, recognizes the reality that customers seek out and use technology to solve a problem, accomplish a task, or get a job done. It applies the philosophy behind the famous quote from Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

The Jobs to Be Done Framework, first introduced by leaders from Strategyn, Innosight, and Harvard, guides the teams at WillowTree to help our clients prioritize the biggest problems that their customers have. We apply the Jobs to Be Done approach and create a map of opportunity that helps our clients gather and prioritize customer jobs in three steps, outlined below.

Step 1: Collect Jobs

A “job” describes the overall task that a customer is trying to accomplish, which could be explicitly voiced by a customer, or could be something observed that a customer is trying to accomplish. Our research and insights team collects problems from different angles — this PhD led group is finely tuned to understanding customer needs and collecting “jobs.” Allaire Welk, PhD, who is a Principal Product Researcher at WillowTree shares:

“When interviewing someone, it’s very important to look for emotional signs that we are near an unmet need. A subtle eye roll or a sigh may be a hint that there’s some underneath concern that’s not addressed in the market.”

Step 2: Measure & Prioritize Jobs

Once we have collected customer jobs, the next step is to measure in a way that helps us determine priority, based on two specific factors:

  1. How important is this job to the customer?
  2. How satisfied is the customer with the current state of the job?

By understanding both how important and how satisfactory a job is to a user, it allows us to quickly focus — because the difference between those two measurements is where the biggest opportunities exist. For instance, if one particular job ranks extremely high on importance, but extremely low on satisfaction, we know that it will make a significant impact on the customer if we address the difference and create a better way to get the job done.

Step 3: Apply to the Product

Let’s consider an example of how this approach applies to a product. A few years ago, we had an opportunity to “invent the future of television.” Rather than taking an ideas-first approach of getting into a boardroom with stacks of sticky notes to come up with cool ideas, we took a problem-first approach by systematically collecting problems that consumers have currently with watching television. To help us clearly determine where to focus, we created an Opportunity Map based on what jobs are most important to customers, and how satisfied they are with jobs.

JTBD Media Example Graph

As you can see above, there are a few key jobs that stand out, as indicated by the length of the yellow line, which shows opportunity. Some jobs have a bigger opportunity than others because consumers found they (1) were important jobs but (2) weren’t currently satisfied by solutions in the market.

A key takeaway to point out here is that the job “Browse content by quickly flipping through content” scored as a high opportunity. Participants explained that in many streaming experiences, it’s difficult to flip through content quickly, citing that it feels like you have to commit to a piece of content and watch it and they miss the days of “cable TV” where they could quickly flip through content. Now that we know this is a key problem, we can then switch to solutioning. To address this, we built a concept that we nick-named “Fluid Browsing” that allows customers to seamlessly flip through streaming content.

Another takeaway from this example, is that the job “Recommend content that my friends have watched” got a low opportunity ranking, as you can see. Participants explained they were a little uncomfortable with the idea of their TV content being shared by friends. By determining that this job wasn’t important in our ideation process, we decided not to dedicate resources creating new concepts in this area.

Download an Opportunity Map Template Below

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to remove the guesswork of introducing new products and services. If you want to use this template to help set up “guardrails” around your ideation process, keeping your team focused on a problems-first approach vs. a needs-first approach to innovation, download our free Opportunity Map in either Keynote or PowerPoint. If you would like guidance from the WillowTree strategy team on your next initiative, get in touch anytime.

Table of Contents
Nate Wootten
Daniel Atwood

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