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The Fundamentals of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory

With decades of scrutiny and validation in both academic and practitioner settings, the fundamentals of Jobs Theory have withstood the test of time.
After being introduced to Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) in 1999 , Clayton Christensen went on to popularize the underlying ODI theory in his best seller, The Innovator’s Solution, labeling it “jobs-to-be-done theory”. Since that time, we have independently worked to advance the theory — Clay through the lens of a well-respected Harvard Business School professor, and I through the lens of an overworked practitioner with 26 years experience in the field.
Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is best defined as a group of principles that explain how to make marketing more effective and innovation more predictable by focusing on the customer’s job-to-be-done. The theory is based on the notion that people buy products and services to get a “job” done. The theory goes on to say that by understanding in detail what that “job” is, companies are far more likely to create and market solutions that will win in the marketplace.
Our collective efforts have produced five fundamentals of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory — 5 tenets that we have hypothesized, tested and validated separately over time. The fact that they have undergone heavy scrutiny and validation in both academic and practitioner settings is testament to their power.
Consequently, when companies put Jobs Theory into practice, they can confidently count on these fundamentals as truths:
The implications of each of these basic principles on a company’s efforts to create and market breakthrough products and services are far-reaching. Each tenet brings new insight into a company’s business practices.
1: People buy products and services to get a “job” done
People have underlying problems they are trying to resolve. They have goals they are trying to achieve and tasks and activities they are trying to complete. They may be faced with situations they are trying to avoid. In each of these cases, people often turn to products and services to help them get a “job” done.
A “job” is not a description of what the customer is doing, the solution they are using, or the steps they are taking to get a job done. Rather, the “job” statement embodies what the customer is ultimately trying to accomplish.
The way we (the team at Strategyn and I) put this tenet of the theory into practice is to define the customer and the job as a market: a group of people and the functional job they are trying to get done. For example, parents…

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