One of the most common questions I get after my talks and workshops on JTBD is, “Where do I begin?” Let’s face it, advocates of human-centered approaches who want to get started often face barriers inside of their organization. So it’s a fair question: how do you bring JTBD to your team?
The good news is that with increasing frequency, stakeholders are directly requesting JTBD research by name. As JTBD grows in popularity, your skills as an early champion will be called into play. Take advantage of that to expand your role and advance your career.
The bad news is that JTBD requires a change of mindset and behaviors from everyone in the organization. Depending on your situation, more patience and persistence may be required than others. For consultants external to an organization, instilling change is often even more difficult.
The bottom line is that even if the will is there, getting started with JTBD in your organization can be a challenge. Here are some recommendations to consider as you strive to bring JTBD to your organization:
Plan for change.
The way in which new ideas are introduced to a group of people can affect the rate of adoption. To increase your chances of success, be intentional about how you’ll bring JTBD to your team.
There are many models for change management you can get inspiration from. I like to rely on Evertt Rogers’s five-stage journey: awareness, persuasion, decision, implementation, and continuation. Others include ADKAR or the Kotter model. Regardless of your approach — formal or informal — there are three key phases to consider when introducing JTBD:
- Awareness: How will you present JTBD and make others aware of it? Some of the suggestions below give you a good starting point. In general, however, you’ll have to match the language you use and the pace of introduction to your specific situation.
- Practical application: Seeing success first hand is a very persuasive argument. If you can get some quick wins that demonstrate the value of JTBD within your specific context, you’ll be in a much better position.
- Institutionalization: Consider how you might make JTBD a part of your team’s normal way of working even before you begin. You’ll then be able to capture examples, templates, and tools as you develop your JTBD practice as you go along, as well as recruit other advocates.
The point is to consider how your team might adopt JTBD techniques or not in advance. Then, strategize how you’ll make a change in your organization. Map it out if you have to in order to move through the stages of change you’ll face.
Find a champion.
Locate others in the organization who are interested in JTBD, particularly decision-makers. Leverage their interest and enthusiasm to help spread jobs thinking. For instance, get them to sponsor a project that can serve as an example to others in the organization.
Instilling a jobs mindset into your organization can start as a grass-roots effort. But having the weight of a senior leader will accelerate adoption from above. Bringing JTBD to your organization is both a bottom-up and top-down endeavor.
Create a pitch.
Create a succinct statement that you can readily recite, including the business problems you’ll address. Your pitch must be relevant to your situation. Why should a decision-maker invest in a JTBD effort of any kind? Here’s an example pitch if you ever get the chance to ride up an elevator with the CEO:
We’d like to grow beyond our current offerings. By finding our customers’ JTBD, we’ll have a better understanding of market demand and ultimately the adoption of our solutions.
JTBD is a modern technique to improve customer understanding that more and more companies are using, such as Intel and Microsoft. Some of our competitors are using the technique, too.
With relatively little investment, JTBD provides us with the strategic insight we need in today’s fast-changing marketplace. We can get everyone on the same page about what it means to create solutions that customers really want.
Elaborate on your pitch in a short deck so you’d be able to present without hesitation to increase awareness inside your organization.
Know the benefits of JTBD and be ready to point to success stories, e.g., as found in The JTBD Playbook, as well as Tony Ulwick’s JTBD: Theory to Practice. Find others online and keep a list of relevant resources to show as evidence.
If possible, also find out what competitors are doing. Search for competitors along with keywords like “jobs to be done” or “JTBD.” Showing that others are doing this kind of work goes a long way toward convincing decision-makers.
Know the objections.
If you get pushback from others, be ready with persuasive arguments. The list below illustrates some typical objections you may hear from others, the underlying error made in that objection, and suggested counterpoints to make for each.
- Objection: We don’t have time or budget for that kind of research.
Error: JTBD projects take a long time and are expensive.
Argument: “Working with JTBD doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. A simple project can be done in a few weeks for about the cost of a marketing survey or usability test. Let’s start with some interviews and a job map.”
- Objection: Each department has its own JTBD analysis.
Error: Functional silos work efficiently individually.
Argument: “Fine. But do they show interaction across channels and touchpoints? Great customer experiences cross our department lines, and we want to create an offering that everyone wants.”
- Objection: We already know all of this.
Error: Implicit knowledge is enough.
Argument: “Making implicit knowledge explicit is an important part of being customer centric. Also, we won’t lose knowledge when someone leaves. And if someone new joins the team, we can ramp them up quickly. JTBD provides a simple structure for us to capture and organize valuable market insight.”
- Objection: I was in the target group. Just ask me.
Error: Personal past experiences are enough to be customer centric.
Argument: “Your input will be invaluable in helping us make sense of the job to be done. We also want to ground that perspective with direct feedback from customers: that’s where the best insights for growth and innovation are found.”
- Objection: Marketing already does research.
Error: Marketing and JTBD are the same.
Argument: “Great. We should leverage that work, but also expand on it. JTBD goes beyond traditional marketing research. We also need to uncover unmet needs and align activities to the main job across departments. With JTBD, we can find our customers’ underlying motivations.”
- Objection: We don’t need another approach or method — we already focus on customers.
Error: JTBD is the same as other existing methods.
Argument: “JTBD offers unique value to our organization in several ways. First, JTBD is compatible with other approaches, typically feeding structured insights into underlying needs into existing activities like design thinking, lean, and agile. Second, JTBD is broader in scope, looking at market innovation across departments. Third, JTBD isn’t owned by any one field. It comes from the business community and can be driven by a variety of role types.”
Try individual JTBD techniques alone or in pairs on isolated projects. Get a success story quickly that you can use to get time and resources to do more. Don’t attempt to follow full-fledged methods, like ODI or the Jobs Atlas, right off the bat. Instead, pilot an effort to learn how JTBD fits into your situation and your organization.
Integrate JTBD into other activities.
Fold JTBD research into other workstreams that are already planned. For instance, if your user research team is conducting an ethnographic study of customers, insert some questions from Jobs Interviews to collect feedback needed to complete a job map. A job map, in particular, is a powerful way to summarize your overall insights to feed into solution-finding activities, such as design workshops.
Modern organizations empower small teams to make local decisions that can have a global impact. They have to have a common perspective on what the organization is doing and where it is heading. This doesn’t mean training everyone in the company, but rather instilling a common customer-centric perspective that is engrained in the culture.
JTBD is too powerful and pervasive to be confined to just one team. Instead, strive to involve others throughout your JTBD process and teach them along the way.
After a successful pilot or two, capture the results to share with others. You’ll be able to show how JTBD can work inside of your organization specific. This avoids common objections such as “we’re different” or “that might work elsewhere but not here.”
Strive to summarize not only how you worked in a new way, but also what the impact was. Showing the potential ROI of your work, even if through a hypothetical calculation. For instance, let’s say your initial pilot effort with JTBD resulted in a product improvement. You might be able to show an increase in conversation rates or a decrease in calls to the support centered because of it. The more specific you can be, the more persuasive you’re arguments will appear.
In the end, bringing JTBD to your organization doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. After you gently introduce the topic, you can get started easily with a small pilot project or by integrating a JTBD technique into an existing project. If people in your organization start to adopt a jobs mindset, you should start hearing them using the language of JTBD.
More importantly, innovation in modern organizations doesn’t happen only at the top. Teams following Agile and Lean are smaller and more empowered than in the past, and decision-making is consequently more distributed. When day-to-day decisions are based on jobs, and your company will have more focus and alignment so that it can grow.
Ultimately, your aim is to become a more human-centered business. The broad principles of human-centered thinking should be internalized by everyone in the organization. JTBD is a key way to help you get there.