Product Thinking: Uncovering the jobs to be done

Ward Andrews
By Ward Andrews
Cover Image for Product Thinking: Uncovering the jobs to be done

This is one of a series of blog posts exploring what product thinking is, why it matters, and how to develop it in your organization.

Product thinking should be central to any UX design team. It helps make sure you’re keeping an eye on what makes your product useful by clearly identifying the core problem your users need to solve.

Once that problem has been identified, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the specific jobs that your customers or users are hiring your product to do. This is the key to bridging the gap between the product’s purpose (what makes it useful) and its functionality (how it’s useful).

Start with the “why.”

Every product needs a clear vision. This is why your product exists. It’s why your team exists and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Clearly identifying the problems that the product addresses tells what your product exists to do, but why it does that is a different question altogether.

Good product thinking clearly articulates the reasons for your product. Why is now the right time to build this? Why do customers need your product? Why are they motivated to choose your product over other solutions?

Having a clear vision of the reason behind your product can help you more clearly define the specific jobs you want your customer to hire the product to do.

Using a Jobs-to-be-Done approach to this question helps you dig deeper than the task or activity and into the core of why customers want to use your product - to make their lives better. They’re “hiring” your product to help them get past a specific challenge and to an ideal state that lies on the other side of that obstacle.

The more clearly you can define that job to be done, the better you address the real “why” behind your product.

Identify how you’re going to help get the job done.

What makes products meaningful is when they provide a solution that perfectly fits a problem. Your ability to fit the solution to the problem is what will determine the user’s overall experience.

In addition to answering what problem you’re solving, for whom you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it, good product thinking also identifies how you’ll help users accomplish their specific jobs and goals.

This is where the rubber meets the road. You have to define the features that will have the most impact on helping solve the problem. It’s challenging, to be sure, but it’s what will make your product work. It’s hard enough to design good features and visuals, but it’s even harder to design the right thing for the right job.

As difficult as this can be, it can also be empowering. When you develop a culture that values product thinking, you empower everybody in your organization to question new feature requests.

Product thinking enables you to ask the right questions, build the right features, and more efficiently steer away from random one-off feature requests that don’t contribute to the larger problem you’re trying to solve.

Everybody, not just the product manager, needs to be asking “Is this the right tool for the job? Does it fit into the product? Does it solve a real problem?” If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, then it’s time to go back and ask more questions before bloating your product with more features that may or may not help get the job done.

We’ll help you get the job done right.

Our whole focus at Drawbackwards is helping clients deliver real value as efficiently as possible. We know how much time and money can get lost in chasing solutions that don’t work. We’ll help you connect your solution to your user’s real problems and define how best to get the job done.

Let’s talk about where your product is and where you’d like it to go.