Jobs that need to be done

Clay Christensen’s “Jobs-to-be-done” framework is one of the most fundamental, but interesting ways to look at products and businesses.  I think there’s a lot to be gained by zooming in on important jobs that a consumer is trying to accomplish, and having a clear point of view on how your product helps them complete it.  Ideally, your product helps them perform a job that they haven’t been able to before (but really wanted to), or helps them complete an important job in a uniquely superior way.

One of my favorite examples of this in Chicago is Apervita, which is helping providers and researchers perform hard but important jobs by making a broad array of health analytics more accessible at the point of care. By doing so, they improve both the quality of care we receive and reduces system cost.

So, I want to share some “jobs” that I don’t think are being done well today.  These aren’t necessarily ideas that can be the basis of a full company – but just jobs I wish had better tools to help people perform them:

  • Studying: After reading Make It Stick, I’ve become convinced that the way we are taught to study in the US is fundamentally wrong.  Highlighting, re-reading, and many of the other common practices that we associate with learning material are not optimal at best, and highly ineffective at worst.  While Khan Academy, Treehouse, and many other online learning services have started to take us down the right path, I think there’s an opening for a product that nudges us to study / learn in ways that lead to more durable recall over time.
  • Habit formation / adherence: Research is continually improving what we “know” as a society, but there’s a gap between knowledge and implementation (especially on the consumer side) that few products help us bridge today. I’m not so sure this is a single product, but more likely principles that need to be embedded into products with other use cases (e.g., weight loss).
  • Student loan education: Though I’m bullish on the ability of ed-tech to bring down the costs of quality education in the very long run, the current and next few generations of students will likely be financing large parts of their educations through loans.  In general, I don’t think there are widely used products that help prospective students and recent graduates understand the cost, and best navigate their way out of debt.

This is just an initial list that I plan on returning to and revising over time.  Are there any jobs you wish were better solved that I’m missing? Any disagreements on the above? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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