The Jobs-to-Be-Done framework is a representations of user needs born out of qualitative user research, such as field studies, interviews, and discount usability testing. It involves identifying for which goals customers “hire” your product (and, ideally, also finding out if there are competitor products that these users are ready to “fire”). Armed with this understanding, a product team can think about the nature of the users’ core problems and needs from a fresh perspective, and devise product features that solve that main need as best as possible.
While the JTBD framework is new, it is similar in many ways to established methods such as task analysis and use cases, which focus on the context, goals, and steps involved in the interaction with a product. The core differentiator between JTBD and these traditional system-analysis techniques is that JTBD is much less prescriptive about what exactly the users’ task is, and how they will accomplish it. Task analysis and use cases aim to understand the best way in which the product can handle the typical activities that users need to do (and often end up being biased by existing solutions); the JTBD approach moves the focus on desired outcomes and questions whether those typical activities are the way of reaching the outcomes that users really seek.
For example, if a traditional task analysis unearthed that delivery drivers frequently needed to print out directions that showed how to navigate between each stop on their daily route, it’s likely that the design team would focus on making it as easy as possible for the drivers to format and print the directions; however, a JTBD-focused approach would focus on the delivery driver’s “job” (that is, getting navigation guidance while driving), and would look for solutions to that problem (such as a GPS system providing voice guidance).