When it comes to innovation, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The process of coming up with new ideas and turning them into products or services that people will actually use is different for every company. But there is a framework that can help you think about innovation in a more structured way: the jobs-to-be-done theory.

How to Understand the Innovation Process With Jobs-to-Be-Done Theory

What Is the Jobs-to-Be Done Theory?

The jobs-to-be-done theory, also known as the progress principle, is a framework for thinking about how people “hire” products or services to get a job done. In other words, it’s a way of understanding why people buy things.

The jobs-to-be-done theory was first proposed by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in the early 2000s. It’s since been popularized by other thought leaders in the innovation space, like Tony Ulwick of Strategyn and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

The basic idea is that people don’t just buy products or services, they hire them to do a specific job. And when they’re hiring, they’re looking for the product or service that will do that job the best.

To understand how this works, let’s take a look at a few examples.

Say you’re planning a trip to Europe and you need a place to stay. You could “hire” a hotel room, an Airbnb, or even couch surf with a friend. Each option would get the job done, but you’re going to choose the one that does it in the way that’s most convenient, comfortable, and affordable for you.

Or say you’re trying to lose weight. You could “hire” a personal trainer, a fitness app, or a diet book. Again, each option would help you reach your goal, but you’re going to choose the one that you think will work best for you.

Applying the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory to Innovation

So how can you use the jobs-to-be-done theory to come up with new product and service ideas?

The innovation process describes the steps that you need to take to come up with new ideas and turn them into successful products or services. And the jobs-to-be-done theory can help you understand what people are actually looking for when they’re hiring a product or service.

In other words, it can help you figure out what job your potential customers are trying to get done, and how your product or service can help them do it better than anything else on the market.

Here’s a quick overview of the innovation process:

1. Conduct customer research

The first step is to understand your customers and what they’re trying to achieve. This can be done through surveys, interviews, and other market research methods.

After you’ve conducted your customer research, you should have a good understanding of the jobs that your potential customers are trying to get done. From there, you can start brainstorming product or service ideas that could help them do those jobs better.

2. Find solutions to the problem

The next step is to come up with potential solutions to the problem that your customers are trying to solve. To do this, you need to brainstorm ideas and then narrow them down to the best ones by quantifying the outcomes involved.

Once you’ve identified a few potential solutions, it’s time to move on to the next step: testing.

3. Testing

At this stage, you need to figure out which of your ideas is the most promising and then test it out. This can be done through prototypes, beta tests, or even just by talking to potential customers.

4. Bringing it to market

After you’ve conducted your tests and gathered feedback, you’re ready to launch your product or service. But before you do, there’s one more step: marketing.

You need to create a go-to-market strategy that will help you reach your target market and convince them to buy your product or service.

Final Thoughts on Applying the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory

The jobs-to-be-done theory is a powerful tool that can help you understand your customers and come up with new product or service ideas. By following the steps of the innovation process, you can take your idea from concept to reality.