Implementation of J2BD

By Annita

5 February 2018 14:54

Implementation of J2BD

Deep understanding of customers’ pain points and problems, and the reasons behind, in given circumstances are roots for differentiation. Uncovering the customers job-to-be-done, creating customers desired experiences and aligning and implementing internal, corporate processes are key to competition and differetiation.

Recently, theories of job-to-be-done (J2BD) have received increased attention among consultancies due to its strategic value for understanding the customer’s decision “to hire” a product or service to get a job done.  After decades of watching great companies fail, the Harvard-professor Clayton Christensen and colleagues came to the conclusion that the focus on knowing more and more about customers, was taking companies in the wrong direction. Rather, the differentiation is rooted in a deep understanding of customers’ pain points and problems, and the reasons behind, in given circumstances.

Christensen emphasizes the importance of not only focusing on the jobs (1) (Figure 1). In addition, a company must also pay attention to design for a desired experience that makes the customer choose one product over another (2). And last, but not at least, the internal corporate processes must be more aligned with the J2BD-approach (3).

Figure 1: Uncovering the job, creating the experiences and aligning corporate processes are key aspects for differentiation and competition (Christensen et al, 2016, p. 129)

A “job” is defined as “the progress that a person is trying to make in a particular circumstance” (Christensen et al, 2016, p. 28).  Furthermore, every job has emotional, social and functional dimensions. Even when a job at first glance seems to be purely functional; the key to a company’s success lies in understanding its emotional and social dimensions.

    When discovering customers’ jobs, it is essential to deeply discover the functional, emotional and social dimensions of the jobs in certain circumstances. Design thinking (DT) is a practical-oriented approach for doing so. Like J2BD, design thinking focuses on understanding customer’s desires, behaviors, thoughts, and pain-points when a customer is doing a job in a particular situation. DT focuses on observation, in-depth interviews and workshops with customers (and business stakeholders) to discover customers’ jobs, and pay attention to emotionally, functionally and socially driven experiences. Often customer journeys are used to map out the progression a customer does over time when trying to get a job done.

    The biggest differences between J2BD and DT, is that design thinking achieves insights by designing concepts and prototypes for customer feedback to learn fast in an innovation process.  The prototypes may exist at any level of resolution, from very rough low-fidelity sketches to highly refined solutions. The focus is to make ideas tangible quickly and test them with respect to desired experiences and how to fulfill a job.

    Integrating a J2BD-approach into the organization and its processes is a strategic key to whether your customers choose to hire your product or service in the long run, and not firing you as the service provider. Organizational processes and culture classify behaviors that are guiding how employees will perform their tasks, showing “what matters most to us” (Christensen et al 2016: 154). Understanding why the customer hire and fire your product when getting a job done will help transform the business. However, the processes must be flexible over time to handle changes in the customer’s jobs. When organizational processes are both flexible and effective, an ambidextrous and agile organization is optimized to deliver the experience the customers seek at any given time.  Obstacles for optimization are evident, where interaction, understanding jobs, coordination and decision making are selected, but core organizing principles for the process delivering “right things in the right sequence to get the job done” (Christensen et al. 2016: 152).


This article is based on the following work in progress:  Sivertstøl, N. & Fjuk, A. (Forthcoming): Applying design-thinking to innovate, validate, and implement new digital services. 

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