Notes on “Jobs to Be Done is Product Management”

The focus of the Jobs To Be Done is Product Management episode is about:

  1. Disruption Theory and Innovation
  2. Current Innovation Approaches Established Companies Do
  3. How “jobs to be done” Drives New Features and Product Development
  4. Companies that Embraced “jobs to be done” Either Explicitly or Implicitly
  5. A Lens To Look Through

The guest is Karen Dillon, co-author of Competing Against Luck.

The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Disruption Theory and Innovation

Clayton Christensen is known for the disruption theory aka disrupting the established company. The theory of disruption doesn’t cover everything. It covers the established company. The startup is not covered by the theory.

“Getting innovation right” is not just luck. The “theory of jobs to be done” is the “casual mechanism” of success. You need to understand it.

Current Innovation Approaches Established Companies Do

  • They gather lots of data, but the evidence is correlational as opposed to based on causation
  • Most innovations fail which may mean they are not in the field a year later
  • They don’t understand the “causal mechanism”

How “jobs to be done” Drives New Features and Product Development

As given 8:17 into the podcast episode, the definition of “jobs to be done” is:

The progress someone is trying to make in particular circumstances.

Very key: We pick a product or service based on our social and emotional reasons.

We should view things from the perspective of the progress that someone is trying to make. We have to understand the social and emotional circumstances along with the functional reasons for choosing a service / product. They use the language of “hiring” instead of “buying.”

Companies that Embraced “jobs to be done” Either Explicitly or Implicitly


They are a good example of a company that applied the “jobs to be done” approach successfully. Competition and solving the problem.


  • In 2001, they did things based on various personae. That’s changed.
  • They even changed how they organized their company based on the “jobs to be done” framework:
    • They now have different physical teams around those “jobs to be done” which includes technology, marketing and so on.
    • They did great by offering prices for specific jobs and made more money overall.
    • They target the job to be done as opposed to the personae.


“Help me get my accounting done now” is the “job to be done.” The up-sells they used to do were counter productive and interfering with the “job to be done.”


They get “it.” They are focused on the “customer’s job to be done.”

They measure the speed of delivery from the moment when the customer makes the order to when the item arrives.

A Lens To Look Through

Looking at things through this “jobs to be done” lens, highlights what to do in regards to:

  • Customer service
  • Billing
  • How to renew and talk with people

It’s hard to find the right KPIs related to “jobs to be done” to show it’s working. Also, “jobs to be done” has to be integrated throughout the organization to succeed.


The “causal mechanism” is used often. It’s clearly an important part of the “jobs to be done” theory. Although there is concern about coming up with KPIs that demonstrate the successfulness of the approach, it absolutely makes sense. I encourage you to listen to the podcast episode yourself.

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