There are different theories about Jobs to be Done, Alan Klement came with one of these theories, and in this book, he also compares other ideas as well, but since we haven’t talked about other theorists and their ideas, We won’t cover that part.

Reading this book will help you create and sell products better. JTBD lets you understand why people use products and what their jobs are.

Challenges and Hope

Customers want to make life better but “we can’t build the products of tomorrow by limiting ourselves to the needs and expectations associated with products of today.” We should imagine how different customers’ lives will be when the right solution is in their hands. You should remember that people are idealistic and products won’t survive forever. You have to be innovative and maybe even destroy your own products for the sake of being up-to-date with customers’ demands and motivations.

What is JTBD?

So a “Job” is one’s emotional struggle to change and make his/her life better and when we say “Done”, it’s when the right solution to overcome this distress is found and has been made life better. Also “to-be” indicates that it will happen over time and is a progression.

A JTBD according to Klement is an emotional motivation and not a function. And you have to acknowledge how customers’ needs grow so you can be ready to change your products at the right time to meet them.

What are the Principles of Customer Jobs?

The Forces of Progress

There are four fundamental emotional forces that generate demands for a product:

Push and pull work together when generating demand. Anxiety and inertia are important competitors that reduce the demands of customers and you have to win against them after you have identified push and pull.

When You Define Competition Wrong:

Mistakes when generating and applying JTBD after defining the forces:

“ Just because consumers aren’t using your product or another product of the same type, doesn’t mean they are nonusers…. JTBD insists that if consumers have a JTBD, they must be using something for it.”

And that something requires a kind of payment, be it with money, time or energy. 

JTBD is not about “recipe” for success, but it focuses on:

The System of Progress (SoP)

When Coffee and Kale Compete

Customers, products, JTBD, the producers are all part of the system of progress which helps out in generating useful products to be sold.

Interdependence: All parts of a system have some degrees of connection with each other and by optimizing this interdependency, you help customers progress, and so new aspirations will be revealed.

  1. Understand a customer’s problem
  2. Search for and choose a solution
  3. Use a solution against a struggle and make a product
  4. Realize a better life, get feedback to see if the value is delivered correctly.
  5. New Struggles will show up.

SoP is continuously evolving, and you can move back and forth in the system while thinking about it as a whole.

Innovation and the System of Progress

As an innovator, you should identify customers’ needs and their underlying causes, then find a solution to it. The needs are not necessarily a  problem, but a symptom.

“Doctors treat patients successfully because they understand that the pains and discomforts that patients express are not the problems; they represent the patients’ interactions with their own bodies. Similarly, the needs, wants, and desired outcomes that customers express do not represent their problem; they represent interactions between the customer and the system of progress. Therefore, customers’ stated preferences are unreliable and why customers’ “needs” and “wants” keep changing.“

Customers can tell you of their struggles but they cannot tell you what solution they want. They only know about the systems they are involved in.

The needs of customers change when the system changes, as it is interdependent. And these dependencies can be fragile and break the system, or a small change can result in larger changes to a system.


When Coffee and Kale Compete: Become Great at Making Products People Will Buy, Alan Klement, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018

Downloads for When coffee and Kale compete

You can also get an additional amount of interesting knowledge about this content. With our newsletter, you will get an efficient set of tools to learn a lot about topics focused on services & digital product building. Read more.

Ela is in the marketing team of Flexiana. After finishing her studies, she got involved with multinational companies. She loves being a remote player as she loves travelling and backpacking.

Read our next articles in your e-mail

Sign up to our newsletter