Mapping Out The Steps Involved In Executing A Job Leads To Deeper Insight

In our previous article on “How to Craft A Job Statement,” we covered the concept of job trees, job chains, and ancillary jobs. Recall the example of the home-fixer-upper where his primary job was to create a cabinet to organize and store his tools. In executing his primary job, he had to do sub jobs including making a quarter inch bolt hole to hang his cabinet, as well as finishing and painting the cabinet to look great.

We can think of jobs in terms of a top-down-break-down structure, similar to how project managers break down complicated task (i.e. Work Breakdown Structure: WBS), and how system engineers define complicated systems (System, sub-systems, components and BOM).

A job tree is a hierarchical representation of the primary job to be done. An ancillary job can be thought as a tree node and a job chain is a sequence of jobs that need to be performed to complete a higher level job (a branch of the tree structure).

Note: ancillary jobs don’t necessarily have to belong to the primary job tree. It could be a complementary job a customer does in conjunction with executing a primary job. For example an ancillary job to “making and eating breakfast” is to read the morning paper to get caught up with the news.

We take the concept of WBS one step deeper by realizing that each discrete job in a job tree also has a set of specific steps an executor does in executing a job. Each of these steps has inputs, outputs and desired outcomes and represent an opportunity for developers to innovate by creating solutions that help an executor get the job done better. Mapping out these steps is called “Job Mapping.”

For example, let’s say our assembly line job-to-be-done is to implement a “red-line” change (the dreaded design change that is discovered in the manufacturing process to correct a design issue – a form of waste). The red-line requires a quarter inch hole be made on the chassis of a sub assembly in a very specific location.  Once again “making a quarter inch hole is the job to be done, on a sub assembly on the product line is the circumstance. To execute the job, a machinist might perform the following steps:

  1. Locate the position of the hole center within a defined tolerance range as specified on the redline. (he might hire a vernier  caliper to execute the sub job but that may be an overkill)
  2. Make pilot mark to locate the center point. (he might hire a center punch – but may not get good results)
  3. Decide how to make the quarter inch hole. (Maybe hire a drill and drill press)
  4. After completing the hole – check for accuracy  (again hire a vernier caliper which may be overkill and time consuming)
  5. Finish the hole (maybe hire a flare or a file – but this may also be too time consuming)
  6. Final inspection (hand off to QA – but this might create delays due to queuing).

You get the point, even a simple job of “making a quarter inch hole” has process steps, each representing desired outcomes. By knowing what these steps are, we can help customers better execute their jobs by making improvements in achieving desired outcomes– or better yet, even eliminating steps to simply the job executor’s job.

Understanding Elements and Actors in the Product Consumption Chain

There is one other type of map to look at before leaving the discussion on understanding jobs-to-be-done , and that’s the product consumption chain.

The consumption chain describes all of the steps and actors involved in hiring a solution to do a job, maintain it, and eventually retiring the solution when it reaches the end of its useful life (like a piece of equipment) or the job is no longer needed (like a job that is done in manufacturing on a product that no longer is being made).

The table below is an illustration of a typical consumption chain. Note that for an individual consumer, the steps are not as obvious as they are with a business customer since an individual often represents all the acting roles  listed – but nevertheless similar, if not the same steps exist – it’s just a matter of degree and importance, all depending on the specific circumstances of the job to be done and by whom.

Consumption chain jobs Primary actors
Awareness – becoming aware of a problem (job-to-be-done) and finding a solution Job executor, supervisor, management
Decision to solve a problem and hire a solution Job executor, economic buyer, technical buyer, influencer
Purchase or hire the solution Economic buyer
Install and set up Technician and job executor
Learn to use Job executor and perhaps internal/external trainer.
Maintain and store Maintenance technical / job executor
Support e.g. IT department – internal/external
Replace it Job executor and supervisor
Dispose it Operational team


Though the main focus of jobs-to-be-done  lens is on the job executor, there is plenty of innovation that can happen along the consumption chain for every actor involved. Understanding what each actor in the consumption chain needs to get done, and what their desired outcomes are, is an opportunity to create more value for the customer as a whole.

Equally important, by understanding the consumption chain, we will gain  important insights of how to position and market our solutions resulting in a winning go-to-market strategy.

Next article will talk about how to define, measure and prioritize desired outcomes in creating.



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