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The Jobs-to-be-done Framework for Product Managers

Ever wondered why your perfectly rational product management decisions at work don’t always hit the mark? 

You’re not alone. 

Welcome to the world of the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework, a tool that can revolutionize how you understand customer needs. 

In this piece, we’re peeling back the layers of JTBD. Expect a straightforward, no-nonsense guide on what it is, how it works, and why it might just be the missing piece in your product management puzzle. 

Spoiler alert: It’s more than just corporate jargon.

What is the jobs-to-be-done framework?

The JTBD framework is not your average business model. Born out of sheer necessity to understand the ‘why’ behind consumer choices, this framework is all about the tasks your customers are trying to accomplish. Seeing it from the customer’s perspective, so to speak.

Think of it as a detective tool, helping you to unravel the mysteries of customer behavior. It’s not just about what they’re buying but why they’re buying it.

From retail to healthcare, JTBD has been leaving its mark. Retailers use it to figure out why people choose one brand over another. 

In healthcare, it’s about understanding patient choices. Even software companies are on board, dissecting why users prefer certain features. 

It’s a universal translator in a world where customer motives often seem like an alien language.

How can I use JTBD in Product Management?

Product managers, this one’s for you. If deciphering the best features to launch or the right market to hit feels like shooting in the dark, welcome to the clear world of JTBD. 

This framework helps in comprehending the real ‘job’ for which your customer is ‘hiring’ your product. 

Take, for instance, the tech industry. You’re at a crossroads about adding a new high-tech feature or polishing up the user interface. Here’s where JTBD shines. It guides you to focus on the user’s primary goal. 

Do they value efficiency? 

Are they looking for something to enhance their professional output? 

Understanding the core ‘job’ helps you align features with real user demands.

JTBD’s real charm lies in its adaptability across various roles. Be it launching innovative software, sculpting a marketing strategy, or venturing into new markets, it offers a transparent perspective on decision-making through the lens of customer requirements. 

It pushes you to delve into user needs, crafting solutions that go beyond satisfactory to becoming essential.

Applying JTBD: The Dark Store Example

Let’s ground this in a practical example. Consider a hypothetical dark store named “Midnight Market.” The store’s main goal is to cater to late-night shoppers who need quick and easy access to essential items.

Understanding the Job:

  • Motivation: Customers want to purchase last-minute items.
  • Situation: This need typically arises after a long day, perhaps when they are back from work.
  • Outcome: The objective is to facilitate dinner preparation or meet urgent needs.
  • Constraint: Customers prefer not to leave their homes again.


In this scenario, “Midnight Market” serves a distinct job: providing a hassle-free shopping experience for time-pressed individuals seeking convenience. 

Recognizing this, product managers can tailor their services to align with this specific job. This might include ensuring a range of essential products are available, focusing on a user-friendly online ordering system, and guaranteeing swift home deliveries.

Benefits for Business:

Using JTBD, “Midnight Market” can:

  • Uncover the genuine needs and desires of late-night shoppers.
  • Develop a service model that directly addresses these needs.
  • Create memorable customer experiences by offering unparalleled convenience.
  • Anticipate market success by aligning closely with customer expectations.
  • Craft marketing strategies that resonate with the idea of convenience and efficiency.

Steps to Identify JTBD:

If only prioritizing your backlog as a PM were this simple
If only prioritizing your backlog as a PM were this simple
  1. Identify Unmet Needs: What are the common inconveniences faced by late-night shoppers? What are they missing in current shopping options?
  2. Determine Desired Outcomes: Phrases like “Help me quickly pick up dinner essentials after work” articulate the customer’s desires, guiding product and service development.
  3. Answer Key JTBD Questions: What does the customer aim to achieve? What resources or information could aid them? What are the functional, social, and emotional aspects of their need?
  4. Create a JTBD Statement: For “Midnight Market,” it could be: 

“I want to effortlessly purchase essential items when I return from work, so I can prepare dinner without the hassle of visiting a store.”

Fibery excels even in fictional situations
Fibery excels even in fictional situations

By meticulously following these steps and focusing on the specific job to be done, “Midnight Market” can innovate and stay ahead in the competitive landscape, ensuring they meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.

The upside of jobs-to-be-done

Let’s talk about the wins of embracing JTBD. First off, this framework is like having a roadmap in the chaotic world of customer preferences. It helps you pinpoint exactly what your customer is trying to achieve, cutting through the clutter of assumptions. 

One tangible win is increased innovation. When you understand the ‘job’, creating groundbreaking products becomes less of a shot in the dark and more like crafting solutions that customers didn’t even know they needed but soon won’t be able to live without. 

Think of the smartphone revolution – it wasn’t just about making calls; it was about having a mini-computer in your pocket. JTBD helped identify that hidden need.

Another perk is improved customer retention. When your product nails the job, customers stick around. They’re buying a product, and they’re investing in a solution that seamlessly integrates into their lives. 

The flipside of jobs-to-be-done

Every coin has two sides, and JTBD is no exception. While it’s a powerful tool, it’s not the be-all and end-all of product management strategies. One major pitfall? Overemphasis on current customer needs can lead to myopia. 

You might get so caught up in today’s jobs that you miss out on future opportunities or disruptive innovations.

Then there’s the complexity. JTBD requires deep customer insights, and let’s be honest, that’s not always a walk in the park. 

It demands a mix of market research, customer feedback, and a bit of guesswork. For smaller companies or startups, this level of insight can be a tough nut to crack.

As an alternative, consider frameworks like feature prioritization for a more iterative approach or Kanban for a more optimized and efficient strategy. These methods can complement JTBD, providing a more holistic view of product management and innovation.

Remember, JTBD is a tool, not a magic wand. It requires careful implementation and a willingness to adapt as customer needs evolve. Like any framework, it works best when tailored to the specific context of your business and industry.

The PM’s Hot Take

Jobs-to-be-Done shifts our focus from mere products to the roles they play in our customers’ narratives. This framework enlightens us on the deeper ‘whys’ driving each purchase, transforming our approach to product development.


JTBD transcends conventional frameworks, ushering in a new way of thinking. This approach encourages looking past mere products to grasp the nuanced stories of customer needs and desires. 

As you navigate the complexities of product management, remember that comprehending the ‘job’ is merely the starting point. 

The true magic unfolds when strategies creatively and effectively address these jobs. 

Eager for further exploration? 

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