Jobs To Be Done (JTBD)

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.

Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School

Theodore Levitt, a great grandfather to the jobs-to-be-done movement, called this “marketing myopia.”

In his seminal 1960s article by the same name, he persuasively argues that a nearsighted focus on selling solutions, rather than seeing what customers want, leads well-intentioned marketers astray.

As Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

The foundation of JTBD discovery is the concept of a goal and the distinction between means and ends.

Goals matter because working toward meaningful life goals is an essential strategy for becoming lastingly happier.

Distinguishing means and ends matters because we don’t value actions or systems or products or services in and of themselves but because they help achieve our aims.

Product evolutions tell the tale. Few value typewriters anymore because word processors get our document-producing jobs done better.

We are loyal to the results we seek, not how we bring them about.


Going Beyond Management by Intuition

We ideate and run concept-test experiments to show you what to do about customers’ unmet needs – before you invest.

Why it Matters: To drive growth, we must go beyond just measuring and telling you what customers want. We must show you what to do about it based on the data and all the other information we have.

Going Deeper: For example, of our collective concepts and ideas:

Did [x] make a difference? No, so don’t worry about it.

Did [y] make a difference? Yes, it made a 20% difference – but it’s not night and day.

Did [z] make a difference? Yes, it made a 30% difference.

We gather data to show you customer needs, what they mean, and what to change. And as you’re starting to change it, we run experiments with customers to show you what’s working and not.

Ultimately, we find your sweet spot in creating experiences that customers love and work for your business.


The Model that Explains Customer Behavior

​Behavior happens when motivation, ability, and prompt come together at the same moment.

Going Deeper: We begin with specific moments relevant to customers.

Motivation is a someone’s desire to fulfill a need. It depends on the perceived value, expectancy, and timing of their need, as well as their impulsivity.

Ability is their capacity to fulfill a need. It depends on the time, cost, physical and mental effort it takes to meet their need, and how well new solutions fit their already-existing routines.

Prompt is a cue – a marketing messages or intervention – that grabs and holds their attention and causes them to act.

We use surveys to gather smart data – four metrics on motivation and five on ability – to reality test each need.

We then conceptualize product and marketing concepts that increase motivation and ease on the needs that matter most.


The Four Exceptional Discovery Questions

We use the WOOP framework to reveal insights that make a difference in discovery.

Why it Matters: Asking customers any question isn’t enough. We must reveal insights that help us create messages and experiences they’ll love. This science-backed process helps.

Going Deeper: We begin with specific moments relevant to customers. We then ask the four exceptional discovery questions.

We capture their replies in a few words. We then repeat for all the moments that matter.

The WOOP framework tells us more than what customers want – it explains why they are unmet.

Photo by Bruno Thethe on

Wishes: We ask customers, “What do you want?” We seek their most important goals and concerns.

Outcomes: We follow up with, “Why do you want it?” We listen for the job they’re trying to get done.

Obstacles: We now rub their ideal against reality. We ask, “What’s in your way?” We listen for the root causes.

=Plan: We wrap up with, “What have you done about it?” We gather the metrics they use to judge competing solutions.