What is Jobs to be Done?
A famous aphorism among marketers (attributed to Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt) is that people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole. Expanding on that insight in the early 2000’s, HBS professor Clay Christensen developed the theory of “jobs to be done,” in which companies should evaluate customer needs based on the “job” their product does for the customer, rather than on demographics or customer preferences about features, colors, or other attributes.
At the recent Front End of Innovation (FEI) Conference in Boston, Catalant Technologies co-founder and co-CEO Pat Petitti, formerly a student of Christensen’s, shared his company’s journey and how the “jobs to be done” principle helped Catalant pivot into a broader and more powerful software solution that helps large enterprises organize their key initiatives, break them down into workstreams, and access the right talent for the right work at the right time.
Check out the video of Pat’s talk:
- The “jobs to be done” principle explains much of the disruption that has happened in retail, financial services, mobility, and other areas as disruptive companies better understand the needs of the customer.
- Catalant customers say their “job to be done” is getting mission-critical work done faster, but the structure and practices of most large organizations make that difficult. However, the most important work at any large company is typically done with cross-functional nodes of people and resources that must struggle against the existing infrastructure to thrive.
- Catalant started as an expert marketplace to help businesses find expert freelancers to augment skills they didn’t have in-house. But over time the founders realized their “job to be done” was helping large companies organize their most important work and access the right talent — whether in-house or external — to deliver faster than ever.
- Based on this insight, Catalant pivoted its business to focus beyond the expert marketplace, developing a platform to help its customers deliver on growth, innovation, and efficiency.