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How to introduce Jobs To Be Done to your organization: A bottom up approach to spreading the word about JTBD

David Wu // 05.23.14

So you’ve discovered this great framework for thinking about products called Jobs To Be Done. You’ve listened to the milkshake talk by Clay Christensen 20 times. You’ve devoured the content on jobstobedone.org. You’re excited to get started…but.

How do you go about getting your company to start using Jobs To Be Done? What’s the best way to introduce your co-workers to JTBD and convince the higher ups to try it?

Diving in approach
One of the powerful techniques we learn about in Jobs To Be Done is the customer interview. When I listened to the “Mattress Interview” onjobstobedone.org I was captivated by the potential and how it could help Meetup.com.

We have a world-class usability lab that brings in people almost every day of the week to conduct tests. We already had tons of people coming in. It was a short step from there to full-blown Jobs To Be Done interviews. We also do informal internal presentations that anyone can attend — so we shared our learnings from Jobs To Be Done and explained the process to people who were interested. This got the ball rolling.

But I was lucky — what if you don’t have all that institutional support? Telling your boss to bring in strangers off the street so that you can conduct interviews — and paying them to boot — is pretty anxiety inducing! How can you get your organization to adopt JTBD?

A bottom up approach
Ricky Wong, Chief Product Officer at Sweeten.com, is using a bottom up strategy. Startups are harried and under pressure to deliver features and deliver them fast — how does he get them to take a breath and then move towards adopting JTBD?

“To shift the conversations away from features, I started asking questions like “What are we trying to accomplish with that?” or a version of the 5 Whys technique “Why do we have feature x?” After the team became used to the conversation, I introduced the JTBD framework itself and we watched the milkshake talk together. Afterwards, we started using the JTBD language.”

The language of Jobs To Be Done is so powerful because it resonates with our core problem. Ricky uses the language to reframe product people from just talking about features and usability to talking about the job something does.

From there, he can introduce the concepts behind Jobs To Be Done in a casual but intuitive manner to the whole company.

“Sweeten.com, matches homeowners who are renovating with trusted architects, designers, and general contractors. Since renovation is loaded with many strong emotions, both positive and negative, I see many areas outside of product where we can apply the JTBD language as well.”
So if you’re struggling with how to get people excited about Jobs To Be Done at your company, maybe the first step is just to use the language. Build the foundational concepts first, then get them excited to find out what customers are really thinking!

  • Brian Walker

    Hi David – TY for article. I am actually the subject of the “Mattress” interview and sitting down with Jason, Bob and Chris changed my thinking forever. Keep up the good work! Brian Walker @BrianWalkerCHI, brian@aegroupchicago.com