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Rethinking Innovation for Product Designers with “Jobs to Be Done”

I interviewed Jim Kalbach during SAP’s UX Immersive Week. We discussed how to approach bottom-up innovation – and how AI can support with Jobs to be Done (JTBD).

In a previous post, I explained the effectiveness of using Jobs to be Done (JTBD) as a tool for facilitating discussions around value between designers, business stakeholders, and technology experts. I listed some useful tips on how to engage these stakeholders and influence business decisions using JTBD, which ultimately drives the product vision forward.

Since then I had the opportunity to interview Jim Kalbach, author of The Jobs to Be Done Playbook and Chief Evangelist at Mural, during SAP’s UX Immersive Week. Together, we delve into the essence of the JTBD framework and explore how it enables innovation to happen at more granular levels of product development, and to what extent AI can help.

Jim Kalbach at UX Immersive Week at SAP
My interview with Jim Kalback during the UX Immersive Week at SAP

We had some interesting questions and discussed the challenges of integrating JTBD into the product development lifecycle. Jim also gave us a sneak peek of his JTBD Canvas 2.0. Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:

  • Jobs to be Done is not a brainstorming tool: if you really want to create human-centered products, you have to (as our good friend Tomer Sharon always says) “get out of the building,” either physically or metaphorically, and learn about the job performers. You might start with assumptions about what jobs your customers are trying to get done (heck, you might even want to start with ChatGPT!), but you have to talk to real humans and validate your assumptions!
  • Jim and I both agree that JTBD is a good common currency between designers, product managers, and developers in creating a shared understanding of what our customers perceive as value. But another insight from the discussion is that — since we are talking about a common currency — the creation of shared understanding becomes a negotiation process! So it is even more important that the activities around uncovering jobs are done together!
  • Finally, we’ve arrived at a new way to utilize the JTBD framework: it can help us evaluate the level of “customer-centricity” within our teams! Many product organizations claim to prioritize their customers, but if a team struggles to create clear and specific job stories that truly capture the value for job performers, they may not know their customers as well as they believe!

You can read an abridged version of the interview here:
Rethinking Innovation for Product Designers with “Jobs to Be Done” (from SAP.COM/DESIGN)

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as VP of Design Strategy at SAP and lecturer of Project Management for UX at the M.Sc. Usability Engineering at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences .

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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