Product innovation is experiencing a growth spurt.  

We know white collar automation is coming and it’s going to change our working world. At the same time, business leaders like Jeff Bezos are waxing lyrical about Day 1 companies and putting the customer first.

Academia is experiencing a shift too, fields like Human-Computer Interaction are seeing more and more business applicants.

It’s a clear message. The jobs of the future belong to those who can design technology that delights users.

For the last few years, we've used consistent frameworks to uncover user needs. Marketing presided over big budgets and worked with partners who specialised in traditional, reliable research.

But there’s an idea gaining traction at the moment that promises to revolutionise all that.

The Jobs-To-Be-Done-Theory.

Here are 3 predictions about how JTBD will impact product innovation:


Have you ever been in a meeting where the HIPPO quotes Henry Ford?

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford (allegedly)

It’s often used to dismiss user validation, a crucial part of building a great product.

Counter-arguing this point is always tricky. Users may not know exactly what innovation they want, but they can articulate their pain points better than anyone else.

With JTBD, we learn that jobs are discovered not created.

You must start by figuring out the “progress” that a user is trying to make in a given circumstance. That’s the job to be done.

Here’s hoping JTBD finally puts to bed the myth that great innovators don’t listen to their users.


The direct competitor to a McDonalds milkshake isn't always a Burger King milkshake. Maybe it’s a bagel. Or a banana.

When all the other products that could be “hired” to do a job become clear, we better understand the importance of user experience in decision making.

Companies are starting to realise this, and that’s why Service Designers are cropping up just about everywhere. Each with a slightly different job description.

Expect more user and service experience designers within organisations in the coming years. 


Design thinking made product innovation a deeply user focused experience. Which many of us are thankful for.

Borne out of that, design sprints gave us a framework to create and test solutions at speed.

With JTBD, we now have an improved process to uncover and meet user needs. And if you pair that with the speed and dexterity of design thinking, you’ve got innovation dynamite.

As Clayton Christensen puts it oh so elegantly in Competing Against Luck:

"It is worth noting how our Theory of Jobs relates to another popular idea related to customer-centric innovation, that of “design thinking.” This label is commonly applied to a broad set of ideas and practices, but at its heart it refers to a problem-solving methodology that emphasizes deep empathy with the customer, divergent thinking, and rapid iteration of solutions. A central element of design thinking is to prioritize users’ experiences over product attributes, and on this important point we find common ground. Because Jobs Theory provides a causal explanation for why customers will embrace some innovations and not others, as well as a language for understanding deeply the insights about customers that really matter, it is complementary to, and completely compatible with, design thinking. The language and thought process of jobs provides a powerful set of tools for developing the deep customer insights required by design thinking, and for inspiring solutions that customers will actually want to purchase and use." - Clayton Christensen

With a bit of bravery and a lot of tinkering, these tools can help us build products that offer immense customer value.

We’ll just have to experience a few growing pains first.