Practical Product Ep 11: JTBD (Jobs to Be Done) – What it is, why it matters, how to use it, and a real life example

“I don’t want a drill, I want a quarter inch hole.”

If you’ve worked in product long, you’ve probably heard that phrase talking about Jobs to Be Done (JTBD). The goal of the framework is to help you think deeper about why your customers buy or use your product. Often, it goes much deeper than you’d expect, and are even more significant than wanting a “quarter inch hole.”

Over the years, I’ve found learning the Jobs to Be Done for your product to be incredibly helpful not just for product teams, but also to inform sales and marketing materials. When you know the true, full buyer’s journey for your customers, you can attract more of them faster, and know how to better meet their needs.

Yet, most PMs are terrible at Jobs to Be Done, even if they claim to know what it is.

They pay lip service to the phrase, kind of like how some people think they’re a “lean startup” because they keep a tight budget. 🤦‍♂️

That’s why ever since I learned how to properly do a JTBD interview from the creators Clayton Christensen and Bob Moesta at a seminar in 2012, I’ve taught many friends, colleagues, and clients how to do Jobs to Be Done interviews, too.

In my experience, doing a live example is the best way to learn it, which is why I’ve typically taught people by doing an interview of them with a recent purchase.

While that works, it doesn’t scale well.

That’s why this week’s episode of Practical Product is a live recording of doing one of these interviews.

How to do a Jobs to Be Done interview: Why it matters, how to use it, and a live example for you to follow along to

On this episode we sit down with my former client, Ryan Findley, to go through the buyer’s journey and Jobs to Be Done for Ryan buying a new mattress.

Ryan, who is the Chief Learning Officer at Learn to Win and has spent his career working at startups and scaleups. He’s a builder who helped launch his current company, Learn to Win, and served as the company’s founding Head of Product (which is when we worked together).

In this episode, we show you:

  • How to do a JTBD interview
  • How to map what you learn to the buyer’s journey
  • What to do with what you learn in an interview
  • Common pitfalls to avoid and key moments to recognize

Highlights of the episode include discussing:

  • (0:35) – Introducing JTBD: What is Jobs to be done?
  • (3:03) – Setting the stage with the product Ryan recently bought
  • (3:45)- When did you first start thinking it was time for a new mattress?
  • (4:34) – Who was involved in the purchasing decision?
  • (7:51) – How did budget play a role here?
  • (9:14) – Where did you go to get ratings and reviews?
  • (13:45) – Zooming out: Black Friday & Forcing Functions
  • (21:36) – The purchase moment
  • (33:37) – How did this purchase differ from other things you buy?
  • (47:17) – Did you visit any third party locations when you were in the process?
  • (48:39) – Digging into Ryan’s experience using what he purchased
  • (49:59) – Advice for marketers applying JTBD
  • (54:53) – Ryan’s thoughts on this experiment

Key Show Notes & Further Reading:

We covered a lot of ground in this episode, so we have a ton of links for you to check out.

Mapping the Buyer’s Journey

The image above is the timeline we discuss in the episode. As you do a JTBD interview, you will learn what the various steps were in your buyer’s journey from “First Thought” all the way to “Buying” and “Consuming.”

If you want to follow along more closely in the interview, open up this companion post on how to do the jobs to be done interview. I use this post and the questions listed there every time I do an interview.

Additional helpful links:

Learn more and connect with Ryan Findley

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