JTBD Canvas 2.0

Want to find new opportunities for growth? Well, stop obsessing over your own solution and start focusing on the people you serve instead.

While that might sound good in theory, it takes a little practice to shift your perspective. And it takes a structured approach to bring focus and clarity to your team.

That’s where Jobs to be Done (JTBD) comes in. It’s an innovation framework to help you listen to your market in a whole new way and really understand what people are trying to accomplish — independent of you and your product.

A core strength of JTBD is its categories of information. The who, what, how, why, and when/where are analyzed separately.

Each category then has its own specific way of formulating information to provide consistency. The language you use is critical in JTBD.

Think of JTBD as a filter to sort real-world observations into different buckets of information — the different elements in the canvas. Once you do that sorting, you can then build models and run exercises to find opportunities for innovation and improvement.

We’re excited to announce the launch of The JTBD Canvas 2.0, a tool to help you scope out your JTBD landscape prior to conducting field research. It frames your field of inquiry and scopes of your innovation effort.

Download the JTBD Canvas 2.0 now

It improves on the first edition, and we’ve provided more details on how to use it, below.

Take advantage of further learning opportunities with the JTBD Toolkit. Our online self-paced course (JTBD Essentials) covers techniques to find innovation opportunities in detail. Our live training (Job Maps from Beginning to End) gives you a concrete process to follow with hands-on practice.

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There are two parts to any JTBD landscape. First, there are initial decisions that come from the top-down, i.e., who you want to innovate for and where you want to innovate. Then, the elements related to the target job come from the bottom-up, i.e., they are extracted from your research with job performers.

Let’s look at each of these parts and the elements within them.

Top-Down Elements

Scoping your JTBD landscape starts with four aspects. Together, they reflect what matters most to your organization and where you intend to innovate. This is what your organization is all about — who you serve and what you help them accomplish.

You don’t have to decide on these core elements in a vacuum. Ask a few job performers about their jobs to be done and aspirations to understand your playing field. Keep in mind that once you begin research, you can revise these aspects — they aren’t chiseled in stone.

Start using the JTBD Canvas 2.0 by defining the elements indicated along the top.

1. JOB PERFORMER: Who do you want to innovate for?
Answering this question is the best place to start. Everything else is in relation to the job performer. It’s critical to remember that this refers to the person executing a job, not the buyer.

Focus your research on one job performer at a time. If you have more than one, separate your effort into different workstreams for each.

The job performer goes hand in hand with the target job. For instance, a commuter is the job performer for the target job commute to work. Or, a conference attendee is the job performer for the job attend a conference. Keep it simple and straightforward, moving back and forth between the job performer and the target job as needed.

2. TARGET JOB: Where do you want to innovate?
The target job becomes your focus for innovation — the unit analysis for all subsequent research. The target job is a functional job that has a beginning, middle and end.

Follow these rules of formulation:

  • Always begin with an action verb in the first person
  • Make no reference to technology, solutions or methods
  • Don’t use ANDs or ORs

Theoretically, the target job can be at any level of granularity. You strive to change your entire market or business. But you can also innovate on a very specific problem people are trying to solve.

In other words, if you want to help people make a hole in a wall, you can choose that as your target job. But you may want to expand your focus to help them hang a shelf or, going up from there, renovate a home.

There are no right or wrong answers. The choice of an innovation target is yours to make. It really comes down to the overall purpose and intent of your innovation effort.

Two questions that can help you define an appropriate level for the target job are:

  1. What’s the most relevant focus for you at the moment? The target job is central to what problem you're trying to solve for people, but it’s also specific to a strategic gap you’re addressing at any given time.
  2. What can you realistically affect or change? If you define a target at a level that’s too high, you may not be able to influence it. Keep it down to earth considering your team and capabilities.

Overall, defining the target job provides the boundaries for your entire effort. It’s where you intend to innovate.

3. RELATED JOBS: What else is the job performer trying to get done within the domain?
Consider all of the other goals that job performers have relevant to you. Related jobs are discrete goals the job performer has, each with a separate beginning, middle and end. Formulate these at a similar level of granularity so you can compare them. For any job performer in a given domain, there are often 3–6 primary related jobs.

Note that before deciding on a target job, you might want to first list several related jobs. If the target job isn’t obvious, move to the related jobs field on the canvas to explore the domain. Do this as a team to gain alignment and understand the space you’re playing in.

4. ASPIRATIONS: What does the job performer aspire to become by doing the job?
Aspirations are what we call “be” goals — the job performer wants to become something different by getting the job done. Talk to a few job performers to get a sense of what they might aspire to, but also let your research inform and validate the aspirations.

Technically, the job performer’s aspirations are not top-down decisions — they should come from speaking with job performers. But because they sit above the target job hierarchically, they are best located at the top of the canvas. There’s also a limited amount of aspirations — typically about 1–3 aspirations for any target job.

Imagine your organization is in the field of real estate, perhaps the provider of some service to homeowners. Here’s an example of possible top-down elements for innovation around “home ownership”:

Job performer: New homeowner
Target job: Acquire a new home
Related jobs: Finance a new home, Move homes, Sell old home
Aspirations: Be happy with home life, Become part of a local community

Bottom-up Elements

Once you have the top-down aspects defined, you want to extract key elements from conducting in-depth research with job performers. We recommend interviewing 8–10 people to get started, but sample sizes of 12–20 are better.

It’s critical to remember that the bottom-up element in the canvas are all related to your target job. In this sense, the target job scopes your research and what you’ll talking to people about.

5. JOB STEPS: How does the job performer get the job done?
The job steps describe the process of getting a job done. They form a chronological sequence that will eventually become a job map. Use the JTBD Canvas 2.0 to get a sense of that chronology.

At first, use your own knowledge about the target job to sketch out a hypothesis. Very often you can make assumptions about some of the steps and the sequence they usually occur in. If you can, also talk to a few job performers informally.

The process of getting the job done is a key focus in your in-depth interviews. Knowing some of the steps in advance will help guide what you talk to job performers about. The nine squares in the canvas suggest a common pattern of stages found in almost all jobs. To the best of your ability, sketch them out based on assumptions.

Job steps always begin with an action verb in the first person. Never refer to technology, solutions or methods. Also avoid ANDs or ORs — keep them singular in their formulation. Strive to make them as concise as possible while still reflecting the intent of the job performer at each step.

EXAMPLE JOB STEPS:

  • Decide where to look for a new home
  • Determine selection criteria
  • Seek new homes
  • Transfer home ownership
  • Etc.

6. EMOTIONAL & SOCIAL ASPECTS: How does the job performer feel while doing the job? How do they want to be perceived while doing the job?

There might be several dozen emotional and social aspects for any target job. Use the canvas to get a sense of some of them before you conduct research.

Emotional aspects begin with “feel” or “avoid feeling.” Social aspects begin “appear as” or “avoid appearing as.”

EXAMPLE EMOTIONAL ASPECTS:

  • Feel in control of home acquistion process
  • Avoid feeling uncertain about new home selection
  • Etc.

EXAMPLE SOCIAL ASPECTS:

  • Appear as a good future neighbor
  • Avoid appearing unknowledgeable about new home acquisition process
  • Etc.

7. OUTCOMES. How does the job performer measure the success of getting the job done?
If the target job and job steps outline the functional process — getting from point A to point B — the desired outcomes indicate how well the job performer gets it done. The outcomes are THEIR measures of success, which tend to be subjective.

For any target job, you may find 50–100 outcome statements. At this point using the canvas, simply note some of the outcomes you believe to be true or that the initial job performers you spoke with might have mentioned.

Outcome statements have a regular format:

  • A verb that shows a direction of change, e.g., minimize, reduce, decrease
  • Unit of measure, very often time, effort, or likelihood
  • Qualifiers make the outcome statement specific and relevant to the target job

EXAMPLE OUTCOMES:

  • Minimize the time it takes to identify a potential new home
  • Reduce the number of compromises made when deciding on a new home
  • Minimize the distance to place of employment
  • Decrease the chance of noise disturbances at new home
  • Etc.

8. JOB DIFFERENTIATORS: What are the factors or circumstances that make a difference in how the job gets done?
Initially, JTBD treats job performers the same, seeking to uncover the fundamental pattern of getting a job done. However, there will be factors that differentiate executing the job. These are often time, manner, and place, but other characteristics could become job differentiators as well.

Initially, start by identifying some of the key job differentiators you’re aware of. After you complete a formal interviewing process, you may end up with 20 or more job differentiators.

To be consistent, begin each with “If” and show the range of options with a “vs.”, if appropriate.

EXAMPLE JOB DIFFERENTIATORS:

  • If the job performer is single vs. married
  • If the job performer has young children or not
  • If the potential new home is local (within driving distance) vs. far away from current location

Note that it’s also possible to qualify the target job with a job differentiator. This will narrow the scope of the target job.

For instance, you could target the job get energy. But that’s perhaps too broad, so you might want to append a job differentiator to it: get energy in the morning. Or you might want a different focus, such as get energy in the afternoon at work. The phrases “in the morning,” “in the afternoon,” and “at work” are all differentiators that provide a different focus to the target job, one that’s smaller in scope.

Use the canvas to explore potential options and decide early on if you believe narrowing the target job is necessary or not.

Using the JTBD Canvas 2.0

The JTBD Canvas 2.0 is meant to be a collaboration tool. Use it to facilitate conversations with your team. The point is to explore the domain and get agreement on your area of focus.

The JTBD Canvas 2.0 is not meant to be a data collection tool per se. With 50 or more outcome statements, dozens of emotions and many job differentiators, using a spreadsheet to collect data is best in the long run. However, the canvas may also help you structure how you capture insights as your innovation effort unfolds.

Here’s how to bring the JTBD Canvas 2.0 into your team conversations:

STEP 1: Invite a team to discuss the jobs you’ll be focusing on. Introduce them to the topic of JTBD in general before diving into the canvas.

STEP 2: Start filling out the canvas. Begin with the job performer — whose problems do you want to solve? If needed, explore related jobs before deciding on the target job. Getting the right level of abstraction for the main job is key. Add many sticky notes for each category at first and refine your language to adhere to the rules.

STEP 3: Once you have a job performer, target job and some related jobs, consider possible aspirations. What does the job performer aspire to become by completing the job? Initially, these are assumptions to be validated, but noting them at this stage helps you understand the space.

STEP 4: Sketch out some of the key steps in the process of getting a job done. Think about the beginning, middle and end. Having a sense of the process can guide your subsequent interviews: you’ll be better able to ask job performers about the steps they take.

STEP 5: Go do research with job performers. Typically interviews with 10–20 are enough to fill out each of the categories of information comprehensively and with confidence. Extract the information for each of the buckets and formulate the statements from the JTBD framework properly. You’re then ready to apply the plays in the JTBD Playbook, like creating a job map or prioritizing outcome statements, among many others.

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Here’s a short video walking through the JTBD Canvas 2.0

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