Experiment: Jobs to Be Done


A financial services client approached us with a complex problem: Help us understand the progress our customers are trying to make in relation to money over a lifetime.

We love mapping complex journeys, and trying to figure out the right framework to start mapping out an entire lifetime was intimidating. Thankfully, we had a customer experience tool up our sleeves to help break this problem down into manageable chunks: the Jobs to Be Done research methodology.

If you’re new to Jobs To Be Done as a way to strategically target products and services, here is the basic idea:

A potential customer has “Jobs” they need or want to accomplish. These jobs can be:

  • Functional — accomplishing a task
  • Emotional — bolstering or assuaging a belief or feeling
  • Social — increasing relational connection or social standing

These various jobs show up in different contexts that make perfect sense when thinking about why a person “hires” your product or service, but don’t usually line up with demographic breakdowns.


We can adapt the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) methodology to identify key social, emotional, and functional jobs our client’s customers had related to money over an entire lifetime.

In addition to helping us map the customer journey, understanding JTBD will help us successfully guide innovation for our client. I’m a firm believer that clients don’t need to rack their brains for ideas on how to become more innovative — they just need to listen to what their customers want, and the customers will tell them.


JTBD research typically focuses in detail on one “switch” moment where a person “fires” one thing and “hires” another in order to make some form of progress in their life. (i.e. I’m buying an immersion blender to replace my old blender so I can feel fancier when cooking.)

JTBD research seeks to understand the “forces” at work within a set timeline, from the first moment a person thinks about a change to when they actually make the change, and whether or not that change was satisfactory. If progress-making forces are stronger than progress-hindering forces, people switch.

In order to understand JTBD over a long timeline — a whole lifetime — we paired the JTBD framework with Guided Storytelling methodology, a research approach commonly used with journey mapping, to help people narrate how they related to money over time.

We used JTBD questions that enhance memory recall to get the interviewee in a documentary mindset, encouraging them to remember small details that help them tell the whole story. Typically we’ll start with something like: “Set the scene for me: Where were you when you started thinking about this?” and continue with questions that help paint the picture: “Who else was with you? What time of year was it? What day was it?” etc. As the interviewees told their stories, we listened for switch moments where their behavior or mindset changed and identified the forces at work.

When documenting our interview insights, we articulated each JTBD using the framework of the progress-making forces: the push of the current situation + pull of the new idea = “Help/free/give me… so I can…”


We successfully identified social, emotional and functional JTBD patterns and themes related to money through various life stages. The client is pleased with the results of our research, and will be launching a new financial product based on the JTBD we identified.

While traditional JTBD research is exceptional at surfacing the progress people are trying to make when they fire and hire something within a singular timeline, our lean approach to understand JTBD themes over a larger timeline was highly successful. We can’t wait for the next challenge to solve through JTBD skills.

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