Jobs to Be Done for New Product Innovation

Applying Jobs to be Done when there is no “switch”

So people often ask, “How do I do a Jobs to be Done interview if I do not have a product in the marketplace yet?” So there is no purchase.

It is a great question and doing Jobs to be Done (JTBD) interviews may still be possible.

First, remember that you want to be problem-focused, not solution-focused. Try not to fall in love with your initial product idea; obsess about uncovering an unserved or underserved problem, for which your product idea might be one of many different (better) solutions.

Then consider whether there is an existing product people may be purchasing in an attempt to solve the same underlying problem you want to solve. This product can serve as a proxy for your prospective product. By interviewing people purchasing the proxy product, you will obtain insights into the underlying problem you want to address.

Once you have this proxy in mind, apply what you have learned about JTBD interviews to speak to people who have “hired” and “fired” this product. If you are not sure what a proxy for your product might be, interview people who have purchased a few different solutions to start.

For example:

  • You believe there is an unserved or underserved consumer— someone in a struggling situation who is trying to make progress in an aspect of their life.
  • They may be “silently struggling,” not even aware there could be a better way.
  • Or they may be hacking together their own solution.
  • Or they may be purchasing whatever they can get their hands on in an attempt to realize their desired outcome.
  • To gain insights into the problem space — and the underlying Jobs to be Done you want to surface and explore — interview people who have purchased one or more of these products.

Finally, there may be situations where there is no close proxy for your product, and you can still get value from interviewing purchasers of an existing solution.

Say you want to introduce to the market a less expensive, simpler, more accessible mobile app to help people when a certain job to be Done arises in their life. You believe the closest existing solution is an expensive, complicated, inaccessible software program. The two solutions do not seem to have much in common.

However, you could still get value from talking to purchasers of the software program — by interviewing dissatisfied customers who fired the software, for instance. This could shed light on the JTBDs the software is not satisfying well and provide insights into the problem space you would like to address with the app.

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Photo by Gelgas Airlangga from Pexels.

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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.