Jobs To Be Done (JTBD)

Jobs To Be Done (JTBD): A Powerful Framework for Uncovering Customer Needs


Jobs To Be Done (JTBD): A Powerful Framework for Uncovering Customer Needs

Tony Ulwick's article, "Jobs-to-be-Done: A Framework for Customer Needs" published on Medium, shines a spotlight on the "Jobs-to-be-Done" (JTBD) Theory. This framework is celebrated for its effectiveness in fostering innovation and deeply understanding customer needs. Ulwick articulates how JTBD provides a structured methodology to define and systematically organize customer needs, which plays a crucial role in developing products and services that resonate more accurately with what customers truly desire.

The Essence of JTBD

The JTBD framework addresses a common challenge in innovation: the ambiguous understanding of what constitutes a customer "need." This confusion often leads to misalignment within companies, as teams may not agree on what customers require from their products. JTBD cuts through this ambiguity by linking customer needs directly to the jobs they are looking to accomplish. This shift from focusing on the product to focusing on the outcome the customer seeks is a transformative move that enhances product relevance and customer satisfaction.

Detailed Breakdown of Customer Jobs

Ulwick’s framework categorizes customer needs into several specific types of jobs:

  1. Core Functional Jobs: These are the primary tasks or goals that customers aim to achieve.

  2. Related Jobs: Tasks that are ancillary but related to the core job.

  3. Emotional and Social Jobs: These jobs address how customers want to feel or be perceived as they complete the core job.

  4. Consumption Chain Jobs: These include tasks associated with the product's lifecycle such as installation, maintenance, or disposal.

Additionally, the framework identifies three main types of customers, each with distinct roles:

  1. Job Executors: Individuals who directly interact with the product to accomplish core jobs.

  2. Product Lifecycle Support Team: Those who manage the product throughout its lifecycle.

  3. Buyers: Individuals responsible for the financial aspect of purchasing the product.

Expanding on the application of JTBD, integrating this framework with User Experience (UX) research methods provides a comprehensive toolkit for addressing user needs. Both JTBD and UX place the user at the center of the development process, albeit from slightly different angles. JTBD focuses on the "jobs" or tasks that users need to complete, which may range from practical functions to emotional satisfactions. UX, on the other hand, strives to enhance the overall user interaction with the product, making it more intuitive and enjoyable.

Effective user research is pivotal in both JTBD and UX. This involves not just observing but understanding user motivations and behaviors through techniques like in-depth interviews, usability testing, and ethnographic studies. These methods help reveal not just what users do but why they do it—insights that are crucial for creating products that genuinely meet their needs.

Both JTBD and UX emphasize an iterative approach to product development. This means continuously refining the product based on user feedback and changing needs. By focusing on real problems that users face, and iterating solutions, products can evolve to become more effective and user-friendly over time.

Case Study: Enhancing a Payment Portal

A practical example of JTBD in action involved a client's request to add a print button on a payment portal was transformed into a deeper innovation opportunity. Initially, the client sought to print payment records directly from the portal, a feature they believed would streamline their financial documentation processes. However, rather than taking the request at face value, the team decided to delve deeper to understand the underlying needs using the JTBD framework.

Uncovering the Real Needs

During our discussions, an unexpected revelation came to light. The print button was a workaround for a bigger issue. Our client had been manually printing screens and pasting them on a door to compare various payments at a glance.

Through these interviews, it was discovered that the real issue was not the lack of a print function but the inability to easily compare payment data due to the portal’s pagination. This insight shifted the focus from adding a print button to enhancing the portal’s functionality to better meet the client’s actual needs.

The team developed two key features:

  • infinite scroll, which allowed continuous viewing of payment data without pagination breaks, and

  • filterable tables, which enabled the client to customize how data was displayed for easier comparison.

The implementation of these features significantly improved the user experience by addressing the root of the problem and providing a more efficient way to manage and compare payment information. This case exemplifies how the JTBD framework can uncover deeper user needs and lead to innovative solutions that go beyond initial requests, enhancing client satisfaction and operational efficiency. This approach has encouraged the team to continue leveraging JTBD in future projects to ensure solutions are always closely aligned with clients' real needs.


The JTBD framework, especially when integrated with UX design principles, offers a robust strategy for understanding and fulfilling user needs. This approach not only ensures that products perform the jobs they are hired to do but also that they do so in a way that enriches the user’s interaction with the product. By continuously focusing on the true jobs of the user, developers and designers can create solutions that are not only functional but also deeply satisfying to the user, fostering both immediate success and long-term loyalty.