JTBD- How I fell in love with this innovative theory

by | Feb 14, 2019 | Expert Blog, News & Opinion | 0 comments

Starting a new job is always an explosive mix of nerves and excitement. Will I get on on with my new team? Will there be a a half decent local? Will my jokes be too offensive? (It can take a while to warm people up). But what really excited me, was getting the opportunity to learn new ways of tackling client problems.

Agencies like Mubaloo are built to tackle clients big digital problems. Helping them adopt new ways of working, respond to changing customer needs, and build the capabilities to deliver great digital products, services and solutions. Ultimately we’re a partner for clients on a journey to digitally transform their business.

Anyone who’s sat through a pitching or RFP process will tell you that every agency sells their way, as the best way. But the truth is, there are many methodologies to getting things done, and many of those ways can deliver real results, returns and great work under the right conditions. Through my interviewing process at Mubaloo (not unlike pitching when you think about it), I was introduced to an interesting tool in the strategy team’s toolbox, something called Jobs To Be Done (JTBD).

Jobs To Be Done is a theory that is designed to fundamentally help clients respond to the needs of their users, whether they be end customers, or even internal staff. The basic idea behind the theory is that people “hire” a product or service to make some progress in their life. A famous quote that really helped me to get my head around it came from Theodore Levitt, a pioneer in JTBD theory, that “nobody wants a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole in the wall”. People don’t want to buy a Black & Decker, they ‘hire’ it to get a job done in their life, like putting up a shelf, or hanging up a picture of their family.

I came into the strategy team curious, but a bit sceptical about what type of problems the theory is useful for solving, and how it can be practically applied to deliver results. I’d done a lot of reading before I joined, and could understand the concept behind it, but couldn’t quite connect the dots on why it seemed so compelling as an outsider looking in.

My team (kindly) gave me a soft-intro to the theory and the work they’d been doing the followed JTBD. They (kindly) talked me through case studies and examples of how it had been used, and importantly the results it had delivered for our clients, and a few months in, I was lucky enough to be thrown in the deep end, and asked to handle a JTBD project. Our client, a huge music publisher, was looking for help in understanding why one of their business lines was hitting a bit of a plateau. Were competitors eating their lunch? Had they fallen behind in new technology? Were they not innovating enough?

I won’t bore you with a step-by-step of the process, but we were able to use JTBD to uncover the core needs of their users, what needs were well satisfied, and crucially, where their needs were being poorly addressed by our clients current solution. 

So as a sceptic coming in, what was it about JTBD that converted me into the equivalent of a JTBD Jehovah’s witness? What makes JTBD so effective?

  1. Uncovering user needs

At its core, JTBD is an evidence and outcome driven approach to understand what users are trying to achieve and their needs along that journey. JTBD takes a methodical, structured and thorough approach to pulling these insights out of users heads, and presenting them back in a way that anyone can understand.

2) Focus & prioritisation 

Our clients often struggle to know where to focus their development and strategic assets. By framing their challenges around what users need, it allows our clients to put their users at the centre, and plan more effectively.

3) Internal alignment

This is often one of the biggest challenges our client face. JTDB can get stakeholders to rally behind an idea, all pulling in the same direction, and support cultural change focussed on delivering a better experience for users.

This way of thinking can be a powerful catalyst for our clients and partners. It helps them reframe their business challenges and align internal stakeholders around the challenges, jobs and progress their users are trying to make, cutting through internal political battles and the status quo, for the users benefit, and business results. 

Colour me converted.

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