Dispelling Jobs to be Done Confusion

Who Should You Trust?

Woman rubbing her forehead looking confused

You may have discovered that different people use the label “Jobs to be Done” to describe their ideas.

To tackle the problems and opportunities I have faced, I chose to go deep into Jobs theory as laid out by Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School who passed away in 2020, and Bob Moesta, the founder of the Re-Wired Group and Christensen’s collaborator.

Tony Ulwick, the founder of Strategyn, uses the term Jobs to be Done (JTBD) as well. While I am less familiar with Ulwick’s method, I know colleagues who have found it valuable. It is just not the same as Christensen and Moesta’s.

Of course, followers of Christensen and Moesta, on the one hand, and Ulwick, on the other, have also made independent contributions to each method.

For example: I have not worked with Christensen’s consulting firm Innosight; however, alumni David Duncan and Stephen Wunker have written books about JTBD. Unsurprisingly, their approaches are largely consistent with Christensen’s writings and Moesta’s application of those principles, but they are also different in some ways.

One version of the framework or another might be of benefit to you depending on the problem you are trying to solve.

Accordingly, I offer four simple recommendations:

  1. As you explore Jobs to be Done — in articles, blog posts, books, podcasts, videos and conversations — be clear on what school of thought the content creator or your counterpart follows, so you know how to categorize what you are learning.
  2. Be discerning and evaluate thoughtfully what you are reading, watching and hearing, so you can trust what you have learned.
  3. Exercise care if you are trying to mix and match tools and tips of “JTBD” practitioners from different schools, to ensure the tools and tips are compatible.
  4. Build a network of informed, like-minded peers, so you always have access to trusted advisors to learn from and help learn.

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Photo by Alexander Dummer from Pexels.

Updated September 18, 2022

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John Gauch

John Gauch

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Help teams build & scale products, experience, teams and businesses | Business Manager and Business Designer | Fractional COO.