Curso Job-to-be-done / Jobs to be done theory - Customer needs are too mysterious (feat. Ulwick)

Meeting context

  • Scope: Jobs-to-be-done course
  • Study notes by Marcio S Galli
  • Status: Working draft
  • Reference meeting: "a05-980 — minisites — marcio — working drafts — jobs to be done — episode 9 — 13c188a7-b49a-40cd-844c-9c05012d0294"
  • Parent meeting: "talk — j2bd — Ulwick's book PDF "Job to be done" — Theory - Needs-first approach often flawed part 2 Sunday, January 5⋅7:30 – 8:30pm"
  • Next 10
  • Episode 9
  • Prior 8

Subject of study

  • Type: Book, PDF
  • Title: Jobs to be Done - Theory to Practice
  • Author: Anthony W. Ulwick
  • Date published: 2016
  • Book PDF:
  • Author: Anthony Ulwick
  • Summary: Public meeting / Jobs to be done course / study notes. In this note, I have learned from Ulwick that many companies engage in the traditional approach for uncovering customer needs, referred as needs-first approach. On one hand, innovation depends on unmet customer needs — we know that. On another hand, the parts of a company (sales, marketing, dev and r&d for example) fall in prioritizing their execution using different interpretations and even the concept of what the need of the customer is. There is a lot of mystery, making execution for innovation very difficult as the notion of customer needs may lack structure. Jobs-to-be-done comes to help this situation.
  • Tags: #jtbd #leanstartup #customervoice #customerneeds

Ref cached

Yet there is a mystery around the notion of companies looking at customer needs

  • Customer needs uncovering more like an art - "Many academics, consultants, and supplier firm end up regarding the collection of these customer inputs as an art. " (P.43)

  • Check on IDEO customer research methods - Ulwick make some indication that the approach of IDEO, of embracing the human behavior, as a discovery practice, makes innovation more of an art than a science. (P.43) - I think it is important in this regard, to study design thinking and other IDEO methods to see how they articulate their methods beyond art, in the sense of science.

  • Others don't see the differentiation among terms - related to customer needs - it's an understanding of others (academics?) that terms like wants, needs, requirements, benefits, problem, tasks may be not different from these new terms like jobs, desired outcomes.

On the need to understand the difference with terms - a call for structure?

Ulwick makes strong position that these terms are not conceptually the same. And that "the nuanced difference between these terms, as revealed through jobs-to-be-done theory, represent a breakthrough in innovation." (P.44)

  • Mid 1980 terms - wants, needs, requirements, benefits, problem, task that the customer is trying to accomplish;

  • Modern related to this work - jobs, desired outcomes.

On the notion of latent needs associated with the customer - and Ulwick pointing that this notion is not helpful

  • Customers may have latent needs - that they cannot express

  • The notion of these yet-to-be-articulated needs - represents an opportunity for development.

  • The subject of empathy comes in this regard - as in if you art a producer and you feel like your customer, you would be potentially better positioned to come up with the solutions that customers are not able to voice. (P.44, when Ulwick references Innovation to the Core.)

  • Embracing these facet of untold or latent needs adds even more mistery - according to Ulwick, p.45, "many companies assume that it is impossible to capture a complete set of customer need statements and that they have no choice but to execute the Innovation process without knowing all of them."

Conclusion for the needs-first approach

  • Companies are trying to satisfy customer needs without knowing what are they

  • Companies are trying to satisfy customer needs without knowing what a need is

  • Yet all we do, for innovating companies, depends on unmet needs

Divisions directed by customer needs

  • Marketing - they define value proposition, segment markets, position products and services, and create marketing communications - based on customer needs; (p.45)

  • Sales - they will have to "show customers that the company's products meet their needs" - based on customer needs; (p.46)

  • Development - they can "understand strengths and weaknesses of the company's products", "decide what new features to add to existing products", and "what new products to create." - based on customer needs. (P.45)

  • Research and development - "makes technology investments based on its understanding of customer needs." (P.46)


  • needs-first flawed - The way we paved, so far customer needs, or Needs-first approach, is too mysterious;

  • "Before a company can succeed at innovation, managers must agree on what a need is - and the types of needs that customers have. " (P.46)

  • Jobs-to-be-done theory helps to improve this situation. Or in Ulwick's words, "the key to solving this mystery lies in jobs-to-be-done theory." (P.46)

Marcio é um empreendedor com interesse em inovação, empreendedorismo, cultura e gestão. Formado em ciências da computação, Marcio fez seu estágio de graduação no Vale do Silício em uma das empresas que marcaram a história da Internet (Netscape Communications). Posteriormente mudou-se para o Vale do Silício trabalhando para Netscape / America Online, Yahoo! e posteriormente ao voltar ao Brasil, para a Mozilla Corporation (criadores do navegador Firefox). Antes de se tornar empreendedor e consultor, Marcio pôde colaborar com vários departamentos como marketing, inovação, engenharia e em times de documentação e evangelismo. Se tornou autor de patentes internacionais e gosta de estudar e escrever para os futuros empreendedores e gestores. Marcio é apaixonado por comunicação, negócios, tecnologia e cultura. Alguns dos seus livros preferidos são High Output Management, Conscious Business, The Hard Things about Hard Things, Maslow on Management, The Startup of You, The Alliance, Zero to One, dentre outros.

Made with ❤ by Marcio and MePlex