4 reasons, 4 steps


Agile development has become the norm in software, but it often overlooks a key issue: how to objectively prioritize product roadmaps. Without it, the results of Agile sprints can be focused on the wrong feature, developed for the wrong audience, or performed the wrong way. It’s a ridiculously expensive waste.

Worse, companies use vaguely defined and often politicized methods to prioritize their product roadmaps. This takes a significant amount of time and leads to a development effort that is thinly spread across use cases rather than a coordinated approach that fully satisfies key users.

There’s a better way. Developed by my mentor, his Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School, Jobs to be Done creates strategic focus and coherent execution. Jobs to be Done looks at what people are fundamentally trying to achieve, rather than just looking at what people want, what they are currently using, or the pain points they are experiencing in their current user journey. It’s a way of understanding who you are.

Jobs to be Done is a natural fit for agile development as it creates the necessary focus in a way that avoids feature lock-in. Here are 4 reasons and 4 ways to use it.

Reason 1: Jobs to be Done creates a clear link between personas and use cases and features.

Tech companies typically target their product personas and use cases to ground their product development. It makes sense, but jumping from them to feature prioritization misses an important step. We need to know what these individuals are trying to accomplish in the context of their use case, both at the functional and emotional level. Embedding Jobs within the Jobs Atlas gives you a complete picture of what functionality, in what context, at what point in the journey, and how it should generate rapid user adoption.

Reason 2: Jobs allow you to prioritize features while maintaining flexibility in how they are executed

A key principle of Agile development is to maintain flexibility. Customer surveys are sometimes shunned for fear of being too rigid in a concept. Jobs’ methodology circumvents these problems. By prioritizing the job to be completed rather than the feature itself, you can keep your focus firmly on your customers and remain flexible about how you do your core jobs. When discussing features and his UX around them, he can set them within the appropriate job context and clearly measure what constitutes success for the job in focus and what does not.

Reason 3: Jobs ensures that the right audience has the right set of solutions to complete the job and avoid adoption roadblocks.

Software often struggles to be adopted because it doesn’t quite get the job done or avoid the roadblocks in adopting new features. Personas and use cases don’t tell you the complete set of things your users need to accomplish to be happy, and they don’t reveal key dependencies that can hinder adoption. , is a tool to avoid these problems. This ensures that you avoid major roadblocks while creating a complete coverage of your high-priority tasks, rather than creating a half-baked and poor user experience.

Reason 4: Jobs is a way to speed up the development process

Companies sometimes avoid user research for fear of slowing progress. Jobs does the opposite in his three ways:

  • By enabling companies to prioritize their product roadmap, it removes the spin that occurs at the beginning of the development process and creates decisiveness instead
  • Clearly articulate what the feature should accomplish and what it would be nice to have, so you can focus on what really matters.
  • This allows usability testing to examine not just what a feature or experience is, but why, so the delivered software truly meets its goals and avoids costly rework.

So how do you get started on this fruitful path? There are four steps to take:

Step 1: Create a Jobs Atlas

The process obviously starts with understanding what the user is supposed to do. But that’s not all. To get the big picture, why certain users prioritize certain jobs, their current approaches and pain points, the metrics they use to determine if the job is being accomplished, and how they are doing it in a way that is easy to track. Must be combined. It’s a sense of the roadblocks users need to avoid to adopt new solutions, and the value and competitive advantage they gain from addressing specific jobs. Together these components make up a complete Jobs Atlas. It is called an atlas because it lays out the landscape perfectly, but it does not prescribe the exact route to reach the destination. Solution agnostic.

Step 2: Prioritize Each Segment

Atlas allows you to segment your audience in ways that are specific to the software you are developing (this is similar to broader company-level segmentation that tries to serve many other purposes, such as marketing communications and pricing). may be different). By focusing on the confluence of Jobs Atlas variables—specific jobs in specific contexts, solutions that beat current approaches to specific metrics, and avoid specific barriers to adoption—a clearer picture for upcoming sprints. can generate concentration.

Step 3: Group priorities into job-related bundles

Jobs often do not occur in isolation. For example, a user may need to estimate the cost of an action and obtain feedback from appropriate personnel within the company on that cost or cost options. These are separate jobs, but linked. Step 3 is to generate these relationships. So you can develop features with full context awareness. You can also have a view to building a complete solution for your users, rather than the unsatisfactory parts.

Step 4: Prioritize your product roadmap

Now you can prioritize your product roadmap based on objective measures. Specifically, the weighting of a well-defined segment, the complete set of jobs associated with that segment, the likelihood that the segment will adopt new solutions, technical feasibility, and value creation. and competitive advantage. Teams can use the same criteria to discuss product roadmap priorities and develop features with the full context they need to execute on target.

Prioritizing your product roadmap is often one of the hardest parts of agile development. Using the Jobs method removes many of the pains, delays, and inaccuracies that are common in this area. Jobs doesn’t tell us what a feature should be, but for whom, under what circumstances, and why it should be developed in a clear, objective, and pragmatic way. increase.

This piece was written with the help of my colleague Charlotte Desprat.


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