• James Walton

The Job to Be Done

Three interrelated truths:

  1. In a free-market economy, the customer pays for what the customer finds valuable. 

  2. The companies that best provide what the customer finds valuable are most likely to survive and thrive.

  3. Discovering what the customer finds valuable is best arrived at by asked the question: what job is the customer hiring this product or service for?*

If you desire to attract and retain customers, ask yourself: what job are they hiring my product or service for?

And if you're looking to innovate, look for a product or service that's being used differently than what it was originally intended for. That's the marketplace telling you there's a need not being met. Thus, customers modify another product or service to do that job for them.

For instance, the makers of NyQuil noticed many of their customers used the product as a sleep aid when they weren't sick, rather than a cough suppressant when they were. The job customers were hiring NyQuil for was to fall asleep quickly. So the makers of NyQuil repackaged the same product without the cold medicine as ZzzQuil.

Look around at the products and services you find most valuable and ask yourself: what job do I hire this thing to do for me? This will begin training your thinking to identify how you can become that for others.

*This idea originated with Dr. Clayton Christensen. He addressed the 'job to be done' concept in several of his works (all are beneficial), but his most thorough treatment of this framework is in Competing Against Luck.


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