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A logic that helps pinpoint customers‘ unmet needs

What is a person’s need? While psychology has found answers and created all sorts of models to explain human behavior, business management has not.


Here is where the Jobs-to-be-done logic comes in: It helps companies understand their customers‘ needs by framing the problem from the user perspective.

quote Ted Levit

In their quest for innovation, companies often focus on the wrong things: products and technology, for instance, or market dynamics and customer behavior.

Sadly, this usually fails to reveal what customers really want and why – a phenomenon that Ted Levitt, in his groundbreaking HBR article, refers to as «marketing myopia».


Instead, companies should focus on the job or purpose that users want to get done, when using their products or services.

What’s good about Jobs-to-be-done?


It shifts the perspective to the user

People don’t use a product or service because of its features, but to get a job done – that is, accomplish a purpose. Once a new solution is available that serves that purpose better, they switch. This simple and intuitive way of framing customer problems helps innovators think like their customers.


It frees the view on your real competitors

While markets are structured by products, users think in terms of jobs. Rather than looking for products, they look for alternative ways to get a job done.


Example: For a sports museum, competition might not be other museums, but cinemas, arcades, or indoor pools – that is, alternative ways where parents seek «to entertain their children».

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It has predictive power as it is solution-free

Successful innovation anticipates unmet needs. The ability to predict upcoming needs is therefore critical. Companies, however, typically focus on solutions, not on needs. Jobs-to-be-done, if applied correctly, is one of the few concept that are truly solution-free and thus has predictive power.

The importance of understanding the job – by Clayton Christensen

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