Job To Be Done by Intercom : Book Summary

Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done helps you understand the real job customers are using your product for. This book is meant to help product managers, marketers and designers understand the causality of product design, sales and continued usage. Jobs-to-be-Done has never been more important, especially for web and software businesses.


  • Get the real needs of the customer by simply asking: “Does our product advance our ability to get the customer to their desired state?”
  • When you’re solving needs that already exist, you don’t need to convince people they need your product.
  • It’s easier to make things people want, than it is to make people want things.
  • The challenge for any company is to understand what products are currently serving those needs, and improve upon that.

Chapter 1: Focus on the job.

  • If you want to build a great software product, making crucial decisions based around a series of personality traits won’t get you there. That’s because products don’t match people; they match problems.
  • A persona depicts what you need to know about a typical end user of your product to make informed design decisions.
  • Personas work well when the user base can be broken down into different types of users with different needs.
  • Why do people hire your product?
    • People with hire your product to do the job of ... every ... when ... . There applicants for this job are... , ... and... but your product will always get ... the job because of ....
  • The customer rarely buys what the business thinks it sells him. Sometimes, the type of customer will define the Job they need done. Sometimes the job itself is the only driving factor.

Chapter 2: Understanding your real competitors.

  • When you’re blinded by thinking your competitors only exist in the exact same tool category you’re in, disruption or destruction will come from oblique angles.
  • When you’re thinking about competitors, it’s best to ignore product categories and instead ask yourself who else is fighting for that same job.
  • Sometimes your customers really want to use your feature or product, but they also want something else that simply isn’t compatible with it.
    • People really want to be slim and healthy, but they also really want soft drinks and fast food.
  • McDonalds and Weight Watchers are selling wildly different products, but they’re competing for the same customers.
  • Your marketing should work to make the alternative outcome less attractive or reposition your product so the outcome is no longer in conflict.
  • Customers don't experience your product in a vacuum. They experience it alongside every other product, service and idea fighting for their attention.

Chapter 3: More than mattresses: Using jobs-to-be-Done research for software

  • Interview questions to find out why people are using your software.
    • What tool were you using before you bought the software? Where you also involved in buying the previous tool?
    • What was it like working in for back then.
    • Can you remember if anyone else was involved in the decision? What was their role in the company at that time?
    • Tell me about the . Can you remember how well that was working? Was it just your department using it?
  • Forces pushing/pulling customers to a service
    • The push of what is happening currently.
    • The pull of a new solution
    • The anxiety of what could happen.
    • The attachment to what you currently have.

Chapter 4: Getting Customers to switch.

  • Most purchases are made through habit, with no real consideration of alternatives.
  • The way you motivate customers to switch to your product is to identify the struggling moments your customers are experiencing and build around that.
    • Emphasize why the existing way does not make sense, why it’s safe to switch to your product, and why they don’t need to worry about leaving the existing way behind.
  • People don’t hate progress, they just prefer inertia. This stops them from buying your product, even when it’s the logical choice.
  • Forces influencing Customers switch
    • Reasons for switch
      • Problem with current product
      • Attraction of new product
    • Reasons to Stay
      • Anxiety and Uncertainty of change
      • Existing habits and allegiances.

Chapter 5: When one job stops and another starts.

  • The most important thing a product manager does is decide where their product stops and someone else’s product takes over.
  • Products exist to solve problems that occur in a workflow. They have a start and end point within it.
  • Your budget, whether time or money, should restrict but never define your scope.
  • Expanding your product to solve a larger problem can work wonders, but can only be done on a solid foundation.
  • There is a fundamental difference between making a product simple, and making a simple product.
  • This minimum viable product approach runs the risk of being labelled a point solution, or worse, “a feature but not a product”.

Chapter 6: A worse product does a better Job.

  • Customers will always surprise you with the creative ways they use your product. They don't do it deliberately. They're just adapting your product to their needs.
  • Rather than trying to address a hypothetical markets of would be consumers, you can make improvements that resonate immediately.

Chapter 7: Abandoning Personas: The story behind job stories.

  • Personas artificially break apart audiences. And critically, they artificially limit your product's audience by focussing on attributes rather than motivations and outcomes.
  • Designing for motivation is far better than designing for attributes.
  • Personals explain who people are and what they do but never fully explains why people do something. And why people do things is far more important.
  • It's critical to find out what problem your customers are actually trying to solve and why they need to solve it.
  • Personas artificially constrain the total market for your product.

Chapter 8: Designing features using job stories.

  • When ---- (situation) I want to --- (motivation) So I can --- (Expected Outcome).
  • Designing successful product means observing how real people solve problems now, exploring the context of the situation they are in and understanding causality, axieties and motivations.

Chapter 9: Asking Why the right way.

  • The value in figuring out the "why" behind things isn't so much about the destination; It's about the journey.
  • When you're exploring the value of a product, there are only so many productive layers to discuss.
    • The immediate layer relates to usefulness.
    • The secondary layer relates to usability.
    • The tertiary layer relates to desirability.