Hey Everyone: Sid here. Today, I’m sharing a guest post by Ed Biden. Ed has held numerous product leadership roles at companies like Rocket Internet, Depop and JobandTalent. Today he’s talking through Jobs To Be Done, which is one of the most powerful frameworks for product managers out there. This post is also a great showcase of the quality content he is producing at Hustle Badger. Check them out! 

What are Jobs To Be Done?

“People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

– Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School Professor

Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is a powerful framework for understanding what your customers really want, and positioning your product as an attractive solution for them.

At the core of JTBD is a customer-centric approach, that recognises that customers buy benefits rather than features. 

The name ”Jobs To Be Done” comes from the concept that customers “hire” a product to fulfill a specific “job”. Therefore, getting customers to buy your product relies on doing their job best, not in having the best product in an abstract sense.

Customers want something but they buy soemthing else. JTBD will help discover that

In this article, I’ll explain how you can use the Jobs To Be Done framework to understand what your customers really want, including questions you can ask in user interviews and plenty of examples. 

Get my Jobs To Be Done sheet of examples here: Google Sheets

What are the principles behind Jobs To Be Done?

Jobs To Be Done is underpinned by three core principles:

  1. Customer-centric - this is an understanding of your customer, not your product or business. 
  2. Evidence-based - they are based on real interviews and insights from real people. This isn’t abstract theory.
  3. Use case driven - they stress the value in understanding specific use cases, rather than trying to develop aggregated personas.

What is great about Jobs To Be Done?

The Jobs To Be Done framework has 4 main benefits:

  1. It helps you understand your customers
  2. It helps you be more innovative
  3. It helps you understand the competitive landscape
  4. It helps you nail your customer messaging

Let’s go through each of those in more detail:

1. It helps you understand your customers

Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) helps you create more value by giving you a deep understanding of what your customers need. It looks at the problems they have, other options they might think about, and what they are looking for in a solution. This lets you focus on making your product better in the ways that are most valuable to your users.

2. It helps you be more innovative

Customer needs are more stable over time than solutions. New needs rarely appear, but how we address those needs keeps changing. Take transportation for instance: the question "how do I get from A to B" has been around for ages. Yet, the answers have evolved over time - from buses to taxis, then to services like Uber, and now e-bikes.

By adopting a Jobs To Be Done approach, you can develop truly innovative solutions that greatly improve user experiences. This perspective frees you from just making small upgrades to current solutions.

3. It helps you understand the competitive landscape

JTBD helps you understand the alternatives that customers might consider to meet their needs. That’s important, because it helps you understand their needs in more detail. Different competitors have slightly different value propositions that appeal to different customer segments. When you understand how customers perceive the differences between options you know what dimensions you can compete on. 

4. It helps you nail your customer messaging

Jobs To Be Done helps you find the words to describe the benefits you offer in a way that will immediately resonate with customers. This alignment is essential for successful marketing.

When would you use Jobs To Be Done?

Jobs To Be Done is useful for product teams because it helps with:

  • Coming up with ideas: It steers brainstorming sessions and the development of features.
  • Prioritizing features: It helps you decide which features to build.
  • Marketing your product: It helps you articulate your product’s value proposition clearly.
  • Generating hypotheses: It helps you develop better hypotheses from customer insights to guide further development.

How do I use Jobs To Be Done?

Different people interpret Jobs To Be Done in slightly different ways, but the most common components are: 

  1. Use case - what is the customer trying to do?
  2. Alternatives - how else could the customer do that?
  3. Progress - where does the customer get stuck?
  4. Value Proposition - what is special about your solution?
  5. Price - what will a customer pay for your solution?

1. Use case

The foundation of Jobs To Be Done is the use case that the customer has. This is the “job” that they want to get done. This is a need that the customer has, rather than something they are doing. 

The easiest way to describe a use case is in a sentence that starts:

  • I want … 
  • I need … 


  • [Salesforce] I want to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of my sales team
  • [Asana] I need to streamline project workflows and communication across multiple teams
  • [Venmo] I want an easy and fast way to split bills and send money to friends
  • [Uber] "I need a convenient and reliable way to get from point A to point B quickly."
  • [Tinder] "I need an easy and fun way to meet new people and explore romantic relationships."

This simple format works really well in most cases, but there are variations on this if  you like. These help add a bit more color. Use whichever format you find helps you really get to grips with what your customers want.

Variant 1: (Alan Klement)

  • When … (situation)
  • I want to … (motivation)
  • So I can … (expected outcome)

Example (Venmo)

When I'm out with friends sharing a meal or dealing with shared expenses,

I want to easily and quickly send money and split bills,

So I can settle debts promptly without any hassle or confusion, ensuring everyone pays their fair share.

Variant 2: (Sunita Mohanty)

  • When I … (context)
  • But … (barrier)
  • Help me … (goal)
  • So I … (outcome)

Example (Asana)

When I am managing multiple projects across different teams,

But find it challenging to keep everyone aligned and on schedule due to scattered communication and frequent meetings,

Help me streamline project workflows and enhance team coordination,

So I can meet deadlines efficiently and keep projects moving smoothly without constant supervision.

Although there are slight differences here, each helps you articulate a key need that your users have. Work with whichever framework suits you best, and don’t worry too much about the specific structure.

How do you uncover these use cases? The short answer is go speak to your users.

The slightly longer answer is that you can watch them work through a task and ask them "why" a couple of times, or ask them in detail about what they care about. By asking “why” repeatedly, you quickly get into the deeper motivations behind what they are doing.


Asana PM investigating how people use documents at their company

PM: You mentioned that Notion is one of the key tools you’re using?

USER: Yeah, I’m using Notion all the time, for almost everything I do -  speccing new features, writing business cases, documenting user interviews …

PM: What would happen if you didn’t write all these things down?

USER: Well we’re a remote-first company and we have people working in half a dozen different time zones, so I’m not sure how that would even look. It’s really hard to find time to speak to people on a call, and if we were just dropping stuff in Slack then half of it would get lost. We’ve always had a strong culture of documentation to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.

PM: So you’re using Notion to make sure everyone knows what’s going on and why?

USER: Exactly.


Use case: I want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on and why

Directly asking “why” can sometimes feel a bit blunt, so here are some alternatives you can use:

  • What makes this valuable to you?
  • How would your day be different if you skipped this activity?
  • What difficulties arise from this problem for you or your team?
  • In what ways does this make your life easier?

2. Alternatives

Working out the other options your customers might choose instead of your product is a crucial aspect of the Jobs To Be Done approach. New jobs don’t emerge very often, and you can be sure that your customers already have some solution, even if that’s a manual or pen and paper approach. For your product to be adopted, it must replace the current solution they are using.


Product: Asana

JTBD: I need to streamline project workflows and communication across multiple teams

Alternatives: Trello, Basecamp, Monday.com, Jira, Notion, Google Docs

Product: Venmo

JTBD: I want an easy and fast way to split bills and send money to friends

Alternatives: PayPal, Cash App, Zelle, physical money

To figure out what alternatives customers are using, ask them questions like:

  • What would be your go-to solution if [our product] were not available?
  • What other options did you look at [to address this issue]?

This is actually another great way to find Jobs To Be Done. You target an existing product, and ask them why they are using it and the other alternatives they considered.

3. Progress

Customers buy a better version of themselves

Once you understand the use case customers have and alternatives they are considering, you want to understand the limitations of those alternatives. This is often called their “struggling moment”. 

All solutions have their limitations, and this gap between customer needs and what the current solutions can deliver is your opportunity. You want to help customers past this struggling moment and help them upgrade themselves. 

Upgrade your user, not your product. Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers.

— Kathy Sierra

In practical terms, this means understanding the different dimensions that customers measure a solution against, and how well each solution performs against these dimensions. Common dimensions might include:

  • Price
  • Speed
  • Quality
  • Availability

As you map this out, you should see opportunities emerging.

Example (Venmo)

Use case: I want an easy and fast way to split bills and send money to friends
Current solution: PayPal

Struggling moments: 

  • I have to calculate how to split the bill myself
  • I have to get everyone’s email address to send them money


  • Ease of use
  • Cost

You can identify customers’ struggling moments by asking them questions like:

  • What’s the toughest thing about … ?
  • What would you change about … ?
  • What’s the worst thing about using … ?

You can also approach this from the other side - ask people what are the best things about your product, and what’s unique about it. Ultimately you’ll get to the same place: understanding where your product can do offer something special that other products don’t:

  • How would you describe [our product] to a friend? 
  • What’s the best thing about [our product]?
  • What made you pick [our product] over everything else?

Either way, as you ask more questions you should start getting clarity on three things: 

  1. Your ideal customer - who are the people that really offer the benefits you offer. You want to focus on these people over others who value things where you’ll never be the best.
  2. What to build - by understanding the unique benefits you offer, you can balance doubling down on these with meeting the basic requirements (hygiene factors) that everyone has.
  3. The language to use - the words you hear from your customers are the ones you should reflect back in your marketing. This messaging is your value proposition.

Nailing your value proposition is particularly important, so let’s dive into that in more detail.

4. Value proposition

Once you understand how your product helps users overcome their challenges, it's important to find the right words to say this. Remember, customers are less interested in the features of your product and more in how it solves their problems. So your success depends not only on building the right features, but also on customers recognising that you offer something unique that others don’t. 

Ideally you want to find a small number (1-3) benefits that really resonate with people. You want these things to be as easy as possible for customers to understand and remember. Try to resist the temptation to talk about more than 3 benefits. You might think that you’re giving customers even more reasons to pick your product, but in reality you’re diluting your message and making it harder for them to work out why they should actually choose you. 


Product: Venmo

Use case: I want an easy and fast way to split bills and send money to friends
Alternatives: PayPal, Cash App, physical money

Value proposition: Split bills and send money to your friends quickly and easily

Venmo talks about 3 core benefits: ease of use, low fees and being social

5. Price

Understanding the value users place on your solution is crucial in determining if you're addressing a significant problem. Often, people will complain loudly about an issue but are actually unwilling to pay for a solution. It's important to ensure that potential customers are ready to spend before you start developing a product, otherwise you could find it hard to make any money with your product.

What customers are willing to spend depends on the use case you've defined, the alternatives available, and your value proposition. The potential value you can capture is twofold:

  1. What customers currently spend on existing solutions.
  2. What they would be willing to pay to gain additional benefits.

You can ask the following questions to help figure this out:

  • How much do you currently spend to manage this problem?
  • If our product provided you with [benefit], what would you consider a reasonable price?
  • At what price point would it start to feel expensive?
  • At what price would it become too expensive to consider?

These questions will help you understand the budget that potential customers have for solving this problem, whether it's a specific amount in B2B scenarios or a general price range in B2C cases. They also indicate whether there's potential to increase their spending by offering a better solution.

Jobs To Be Done Examples

Get the Hustle Badger Jobs To Be Done examples here: Google Sheets

Here are a few more Jobs To Be Done examples:


Use case: I want to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of my sales team

Alternatives: Oracle CRM, SAP CRM, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Microsoft Dynamics 365

Progress: Price, ease of integration, sales capabilities, service & support 

Value Proposition: Power up every team with CRM, trusted AI, and data

Pricing: Variable


Use case: I need to streamline project workflows and communication across multiple teams

Alternatives: Trello, Notion, Monday.com, Google Docs, Jira

Progress: More integrations, more automation, more accountability in projects

Value Proposition: Drive clarity and impact at scale by connecting work and workflows to company-wide goals

Pricing: Variable


Use case: I want an easy and fast way to split bills and send money to friends

Alternatives: PayPal, Cash App, physical money

Progress: Simpler UX, better social features, cheaper fees

Value proposition: Split bills and send money to your friends quickly and easily

Pricing: 3% on amounts linked to a credit card

Wrap up

Jobs To Be Done is such a popular framework that everyone has their own “recipe” for it. However, at the core of each of these is a customer-centric way of understanding what your customers value, and how you can satisfy their needs. 

Five questions get to the core of Jobs To Be Done and articulating the value you’re trying to deliver:

  • Use case: what is the “job” your customers have?
  • Alternatives: who else could they “hire” to get this job done?
  • Progress: what benefits do different products offer? 
  • Value proposition: what are the most important benefits you offer?
  • Price: What will customers pay for the benefits you can deliver

For more practical advice for PMs and product leaders, check out www.hustlebadger.com

How I can help you:

  1. Fundamentals of Product Management - learn the fundamentals that will set you apart from the crowd and accelerate your PM career.
  2. Improve your communication: get access to 20 templates that will improve your written communication as a product manager by at least 10x.
Jun 9, 2024
Fundamentals of Product Management

More from 

Fundamentals of Product Management

View All

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
Posts to Your Inbox

No Spam. Unsubscribe any time.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.