The Jobs To Be Done Playbook Cover

The Jobs To Be Done Playbook

Align Your Markets, Organization, and Strategy Around Customer Needs

By Jim Kalbach

To be published: April 2020

The context of business has changed. Consumers have real power: they can research company backgrounds, compare ratings, and find alternatives with a simple tap. Traditional management approaches favoring operational efficiency and maximizing short-term profit don’t suffice.

Instead, organizations need to find opportunities for growth from their markets. But despite this new customer-centric imperative, many struggle to shift mindsets.

Jobs to be done (JTBD) helps. Through consistent language and structured techniques, JTBD allows organizations to turn customer insight into action.

The principle is straightforward: people “hire” products to get a job done. They aren’t loyal to a brand, but to accomplishing their goals. Uncover those goals, and you’ll be in a better place to create new value.

JTBD is not a design method, but a business approach for viewing a given market. It can be applied to disciplines across an organization, and is compatible with design thinking, Agile and Lean. This book compiles techniques from across the field in one simple, practical reference that will help you get started working with JTBD right away.


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More about The Jobs To Be Done Playbook

Testimonials

Jim is a true practitioner who is an expert in both design and applying jobs to be done to product problems. As such, this book holds a rare value: it’s fueled by practicality but steeped in solid theory as well.

—Des Traynor, co-founder of Intercom

The Playbook is the ultimate guide to the JTBD approach and the most comprehensive analysis of the method to date.

—Lada Gorlenko, Director of UX Research at Smartsheet and a curator of the Enterprise Experience conference.

Familiar with the Jobs to Be Done approach? Unfamiliar? It doesn’t matter because in this book Jim Kalbach seamlessly fuses together the JTBD framework with design techniques in an easy-to-understand way that will add more rigor to your design practices!

—Richard Dalton, Head Of Design at Capital One

We seek to anchor ourselves in real human needs, but in the course of business, it’s easy to get lost. JTBD is an important weapon against that, and Jim does a great job breaking it down, connecting it to related frameworks, and making it actionable.

Giff Constable, author of Testing with Humans and CPO of Meetup

This book peels back the obfuscation that often surrounds jobs to be done and provides a practical primer that connects JTBD methodology with the foundations of user experience practice.

—Peter Merholz, design management consultant and co-author of Org Design for Design Orgs

One of the biggest challenges of applying the Jobs to Be Done approach has been reconciling the varying methods promoted as best practice. In this tactical, practical book, Jim Kalbach has done a great job of reconciling the various schools of thought about JTBD and provides a clear, usable approach to the methodology to help teams better understand why their customers behave in certain ways and how to build better products and services that meet their needs. In that way, this book is a tremendous resource for organizations attempting to differentiate customer experience and value.

—Jeff Gothelf, author Lean UX and Sense & Respond

Jobs to Be Done is key to building successful products, and this book masterfully gives a step-by-step guide on how to put it into practice.

—Melissa Perri, author of Escaping the Build Trap

The hardest part of design research is influencing the product strategy itself in a clear and reproducible way.  If you are ready for that challenge, pick up this book!

—Andrea Gallagher, UX Research Lead, Google

This book does a great job of explaining the nuances of Jobs Theory and its many applications.  It emphasizes the true value of Jobs Theory—as a lens that companies can use to take their understanding of customer needs to the next level. This book offers a perspective that is certain to help anyone who is interested in learning how to put Jobs Theory into practice.

—Tony Ulwick, Strategyn Founder and CEO 

Jim Kalbach’s The Jobs to Be Done Playbook provides a very good, broad perspective on the practical applications of JTBD for organizations to navigate the innovation process successfully. This down-to-earth manual will be highly valued by practitioners. With a range of examples and a wealth of references, readers will find The Playbook  to be an excellent resource for finding their path through innovation and creating products of lasting value.

Bob Moesta, President and CEO of the Re-Wired Group

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Understanding JTBD
  • Chapter 2: Working with JTBD
  • Chapter 3: Discovering Value
  • Chapter 4: Defining Value
  • Chapter 5: Designing Value
  • Chapter 6: Delivering Value
  • Chapter 7: (Re-)Developing Value
  • Chapter 8: JTBD Formulas: Putting It All Together

Foreword

Some books are written primarily to be read; others are written mainly to be used. Jim Kalbach’s book, Jobs to Be Done, should inspire the best of both. The reason is not just that Jim is a fluent writer with a crisp and clear purpose, but that he treats the fundamentals of user design, user experience, and the “job to be done” with thoughtfulness, seriousness, and rigor. I cannot overstate how important that is.

In my classes, workshops, and advisory work, I have the good fortune to work with talented people who truly want to do excellent work. I like and admire them. They are talented and smart. But oftentimes, because they are so talented and smart, they presume or assume they know the fundamentals of something when, in truth, they do not. With apologies to Atul Gawande, they have a “Checklist Manifesto” grasp of what they’re trying to do. That is, they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do but lack an essence and esprit that makes the work compelling. What people minimize (or overlook) about Gawande’s checklists is that they are supposed to be prompts and reminders for people who truly know their stuff. The challenge here is that people—smart people, caring people—don’t always quite know the right stuff.

Yes, they know the “product” and the “service” and the desired and desirable “user experience,” but do they really understand and appreciate the power and importance of “the job to be done”? The concept is simple and straightforward—it’s scalable, implementable, and extensible. Instantiation is not.

That’s why Jim’s book is so useful and important. He’s got the rigor and the chops to not only make the fundamentals accessible and understandable, but practical and doable as well. While I am a huge Clay Christensen fan (indeed, he was kind enough to write a blurb for one of my books), I think he’d be one of the first to acknowledge that his breakthrough conceptual thinking requires facilitators, translators, and interlocutors to make it work in the real world. With tongue firmly in cheek, it’s quite a “job to be done” to get the “job to be done” done. But that’s what Jim’s book empowers you to do.

This is not a book to be read in a sitting or a transcontinental flight. Similarly, you’re a jerk if you hand it to a colleague or a boss without spending some time with it yourself. The real way to get value from this book is to ask yourself—honestly and openly—where your greatest frustration lies as a value creator. Then start leafing through this book—not to find yourself or the answer, but to understand the essential fundamentals of the job to be done.

—Michael Schrage, Research Fellow at MIT’s Initiative on The Digital Economy and author of Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? [HBR Press]