• Clayton M. Christensen
• Taddy Hall
• Karen Dillon
• David S. Duncan
We discussed this concept in our Org Growth class at Kellogg. It is a very powerful concept in creating new growth value propositions.
What a company need to home in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance—what the customer hopes to accomplish. This is what we’ve come to call the job to be done.
We all have many jobs to be done in our lives. Some are little (pass the time while waiting in line); some are big (find a more fulfilling career). Some surface unpredictably (dress for an out-of-town business meeting after the airline lost my suitcase); some regularly (pack a healthful lunch for my daughter to take to school). When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. If it does the job well, the next time we’re confronted with the same job, we tend to hire that product again. And if it does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look for an alternative. (We’re using the word “product” here as shorthand for any solution that companies can sell; of course, the full set of “candidates” we consider hiring can often go well beyond just offerings from companies.)…
… Successful innovations help consumers to solve problems—to make the progress they need to, while addressing any anxieties or inertia that might be holding them back. But we need to be clear: “Job to be done” is not an all-purpose catchphrase. Jobs are complex and multifaceted; they require precise definition. Here are some principles to keep in mind:“Job” is shorthand for what an individual really seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance.But this goal usually involves more than just a straightforward task; consider the experience a person is trying to create.
The circumstances are more important than customer characteristics, product attributes, new technologies, or trends
Jobs are never simply about function—they have powerful social and emotional dimensions
… A deep understanding of a job allows you to innovate without guessing what trade-offs your customers are willing to make. It’s a kind of job spec.
Of the more than 20,000 new products evaluated in Nielsen’s 2012–2016 Breakthrough Innovation report, only 92 had sales of more than $50 million in year one and sustained sales in year two, excluding close-in line extensions. On the surface the list of hits might seem random—International Delight Iced Coffee, Hershey’s Reese’s Minis, and Tidy Cats LightWeight, to name just a few—but they have one thing in common. According to Nielsen, every one of them nailed a poorly performed and very specific job to be done. International Delight Iced Coffee let people enjoy in their homes the taste of coffeehouse iced drinks they’d come to love. And thanks to Tidy Cats LightWeight litter, millions of cat owners no longer had to struggle with getting heavy, bulky boxes off store shelves, into car trunks, and up the stairs into their homes…
…. How did Hershey’s achieve a breakout success with what might seem to be just another version of the decades-old peanut butter cup? Its researchers began by exploring the circumstances in which Reese’s enthusiasts were “firing” the current product formats. They discovered an array of situations—driving the car, standing in a crowded subway, playing a video game—in which the original large format was too big and messy, while the smaller, individually wrapped cups were a hassle (opening them required two hands). In addition, the accumulation of the cups’ foil wrappers created a guilt-inducing tally of consumption: I had that many? When the company focused on the job that smaller versions of Reese’s were being hired to do, it created Reese’s Minis. They have no foil wrapping to leave a telltale trail, and they come in a resealable flat-bottom bag that a consumer can easily dip a single hand into. The results were astounding: $235 million in the first two years’ sales and the birth of a breakthrough category extension.