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Understanding the jobs to be done perspective

Understanding the jobs to be done perspective

Humans are always in one of two states. They either decide, what they will do or they do, what they decided to do. This blog focuses on understanding, why people decide the way they do. The framework that we at UTXO Solutions use for that is based on the Jobs to be done theory. Here is how it looks like on a very high level:

What is a job to be done?

Imagine, that you sell coffee. Why do people buy coffee? The job to be done theory says, that they hire the coffee for a specific job. They want the coffee to do something for them. They want the coffee to generate a form of progress in their life. To make their life better.

Let’s say you are tired and you don’t like being tired. Everything feels difficult to you. You can’t get your work done. And you look like a zombie. You hire the coffee so things feel easier and you can get your work done. Your eye bags are still huge, but at least your eyes are wide open. 

This is the progress that you made. You hired the coffee to make this progress for you. And you are willing to pay for the progress. This can be with the money for the coffee, but also with a coffee crash later that day.

The job description for this could be: 

  • Help me feel better 
  • Help me get my work done. 
  • Help me look good 

Competing for the job

When selling coffee, most companies think of other coffee as their main competition. Is the other coffee a better solution for the problem of people wanting to drink coffee? Maybe they see similar products as well. Energy drinks, coke, tea and so on. 

Thinking, what gets the job done, is a more complete view. “Help me get my work done” is a job, that allows solutions such as:

  • Time management techniques like Pomodoro
  • Youtube videos on smarter working
  • Breathwork to increase focus

Getting a job done also doesn’t mean getting a job done well. Very often, people hire bad solutions for a job they have like:

  • Slacking at work
  • Appearing productive instead of being productive
  • Shying away from new work
  • Waiting for your boss to call you out on bad work

You can learn to see the whole spectrum of competition for the job. This improves your ability to target customers. “Coffee, the boost for your career” is a totally different message than “This coffee tastes great”

Being hired for more than one job

Most products are hired for more than one job. Coffee for example can be hired for:

  • Help me be more focused at work
  • Help me to feel awake
  • Help me to socialise with my colleagues

This means, that coffee has competitors in various departments. In the social job above, it competes with social media. Most coffee producers wouldn’t consider social media as a competitor. Yet it is.

One important competition is always the current solution. “Being tired and feeling bad about it” is a competition. Change doesn’t come easy. Not changing is often your biggest competitor. To understand, why people change at all, we can look at the forces of progress. 

Understanding the elements of progress

A Job to Be Done describes, how people want to make progress in specific situations. These situations can be in business or personal. The solutions that you hire for the job can be products or services, but also behaviors. “Going to bed early” is a solution and thus a competition as well.

To understand, which solution someone will choose, we need to know, how they measure progress. For this, there are four more elements of progress:

  • Pains
  • Gains
  • Limiting context
  • Events

Each of those deserves more then one in depth post. So let’s only dive into them shortly:


Pains are things, that drive people away from a current or future solution. For the coffee example, this could be “not getting your work done” as a push away. But it could be “I don’t want to further disrupt my sleep cycle” as anxiety towards the new solution. 


Gains drive people towards a future solution or keep them in the current one. It could be “my boss doesn’t care anyway” that keeps you in accepting your tired state. But it could be the hope, to be seen as someone productive by your coworkers, that pulls you toward coffee. 

Limiting context:

The limiting context prevents you from taking some solutions. Making a nap is a competitor to coffee. But at 9 AM in the office, you can’t take a nap in most companies. 


These are triggers from outside, that initiate you changing your solution. A colleague telling you, how tired you look. You reading the same e-mail for the third time and still not understanding it. A look in the mirror showing your eyebags. And so on. 

There is a beautiful interplay for all these elements. And if you ask your customers the right way, they tell you all about their decision making. This allows you, to engineer the whole process of buying and using your product. More importantly though, it allows you to engineer products, that offer true added value.

Understand, how people switch from one solution to another. 

This allows you to build better products. To improve marketing. And sales. This builds a healthy business with fan-like customers. 

Want to learn how to use Jobs to be done?

Have a look at our Mastering Jobs to be done onlinecourse

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