Jobs To Be Done

One of my clients first introduced me to Jobs To Be Done theory, and since then, we have used it as one of the tools to help uncover consumer needs states in certain situations, in order to better understand “white space gaps and opportunities.”

What I appreciate about this theory is that it starts from a place of “need or desire” rather than a place of “what’s missing” or lack? Many traditional methods for understanding wants and needs is looks at filling the gap to produce products – starting from a place of what’s missing. People can typically comment or think about how to do something better than what it is.  When starting from a place of lack, one cannot help but stay in a place of lack.

Drill bit

But when one starts from a place of desire, suddenly everything shifts. Let me give you an example, For years I’ve been trying to figure out how to change things in my company that are frustrating to me – the feeling of never having enough time, wearing too many hats, wanting to create new ideas or better systems but feeling buried in the work we currently have.  From that mindset, I’ve been evaluating what’s missing, what’s not quite right, what I would do different as a starting place for trying to solve the problem.  And I haven’t gotten very far.

A Trip to Austin

So, I took a few days just to myself, thanks to my wonderful husband (who I think was secretly ecstatic for a few days alone and my mom, who took my daughter for a “cousin camp”).  I went down to Lake Austin Spa to spend time with… me.  I did this thinking I would come back with a new purpose, life planned out, with dramatic shifts along with a strategy.  Instead, I came back with something different.

vision boardThis may have been the only few days I’ve lived without an agenda as an adult.

I took a step back and I slept, walked, read and journaled.  And then on my 2nd day, I started flipping through magazines, pulled out every image that attracted me, or I was emotionally drawn to, then labeled, and created a collage.  Suddenly, I was in research mode, and knew what to do – this time I was researching myself!  I started looking and what resulted was a really specific “Job to be Done.”

Turning it on Myself

I decided to start from a place of desire. I started asking myself why do I feel the urge to change? Why is finding my passion so important to me? I have a great family and I’m doing work that I love and feels interesting to me so what’s missing? I also asked myself the question what do I most love?

Looking at my collage, I realized I needed to develop some patterns or themes. So, my second step was to create definition around the pictures, looking for similarities and differences. When I finished, I had discovered that a lot of what I had passion for was already in my life! In the discovery of trying to find my passion I found that I already had it. What a concept!

Here’s how I translated my “vision collage” into a Job to Be Done.  I’ve wanted to buy or design a “creative, innovation space” for a while but I have been rejecting in my mind that it’s a viable option…due to all of the negative self-talk rattling around in my mind.  But this process allowed me to open up to the “why” of how this is important to me,…here’s how I organized the picture and post-it data using the JTBD theory.


Note: the sentence structure we use for our research, I slightly changed. Instead of “I use”, I replaced with “I need”

I need (what)

  • to create a beautiful space where light, water, nature and creativity connect
  • an innovative, transformative space for me and others to create
  • space to breathe – to feel, to be, to love, to give thanks

When (the situation)

  • I’m in my current state of desiring a life that’s true for me

I want to (what motivates me)

  • create vibrant ways for people to come together for fun, cozy connection
  • help others find their joy and facilitate groups growing together

So I can (the outcome I want)

  • set myself free and surrender to loving what’s important to me
  • explore into the unknown with a spirit of adventure
  • let go of what doesn’t serve me

In the end, what came up for me was unexpected. What I discovered is that I was not spending enough time implementing experiences into my life which gives me joy. So suddenly these themes that emerged allowed me to start taking action on some small steps and over the hump of feeling like I had to make some huge life change in order to find my passion or make things better. And in turn, it has brought newfound passion for fulfilling this dream!

Ready to take the next step?  Click here for a printable worksheet to start your own journey of self discovery.


This article republished with permission from April Bell Research Group.  Article originally published on November 2, 2017.  See this article on