Why do patients go to the hospital? Or a better question is what are patients hiring a hospital to do? Is it for a surgery? An annual exam? To fix a broken bone? These all may be use cases that a hospital sees, but it’s not what they actually want from the hospital. One of our favorite methodologies here at Cast & Hue is “Jobs-to-be-done”. Jobs-to-be-done, or JTBD, is not about a specific product or service. Instead, it looks at the outcomes that patients are looking for and the purpose of those services.

One of our favorite examples of JTBD thinking is the power drill. Why do people buy drills? It’s not because they need more stuff to fill up their garage, but rather they interested in making clean, straight holes. The drill often becomes the best tool for the job, but it isn’t the only option. Alternatives exist, such as a laser cutter, a narrow blade, or using a screw as a makeshift drill bit. The drill is popular due to it’s ability to create a clean, quality hole at an affordable price, unlike all of the aforementioned options.

By the same logic, JTBD can lead to new products, especially when paired with additional experience design methodologies such as design thinking. Going back to the drill example, the self-tapping screw came along to reduce the reliance on a drill bit. Manufactures understood that the bit was simply “hired” to drill a hole for a screw, and by “hiring” self-tapping screws, builders were able to achieve the same result with less time and complexity.

“Identifying and understanding the jobs to be done is only the first step in creating products that customers want—especially ones they will pay premium prices for. It’s also essential to create the right set of experiences for the purchase and use of the product and then integrate those experiences into a company’s processes.”

- Harvard Business Review

JTBD goes beyond the utilitarian aspect of a job though. It also encompasses the emotions that customers encounter when performing jobs. Another example of JTBD can be found in car repair. Even though a mechanic is being paid to fix a car, the customer is “hiring” the mechanic to provide peace of mind around reliability. By understanding what that job is and why they are being hired, service centers are able to differentiate themselves by providing additional documentation, explanation, and ongoing service plans. These may be services beyond just fixing a car, but they all get to the crux of the matter: providing peace of mind for the driver.

It’s also important to understand that not all customers hire a product or service for the same reason. Recently, we worked with an Arizona-based health system to understand the different jobs that patients were hiring the hospital to do. Using personas and psychographic segmentation tools, we discovered that some patients simply were hiring the hospital as a “link” to the system. They did the research themselves and were hiring their doctor to basically perform tests and write prescriptions. On the other end of the spectrum, we had a group of patients that looked to the health system to be a trusted voice and advisor in their healthcare journey. By understanding these differences, we were able to differentiate services and marketing efforts to reach different populations based upon the jobs they needed completed.

Next time you find yourself in a position where you are trying to differentiate yourself, look at jobs-to-be-done to provide a framework for innovation. Why are your customers hiring you? Understanding their pain points may just be the key to creating your next big innovation.

If you'd like to continue the conversation around JTBD or talk more about your innovation challenges, reach out to us at hello@castandhue.com or follow up on Twitter at @castandhue.

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