Business Innovation

Understanding The Anatomy Of Work

Whether your team is innovating or grinding, taking on projects or tackling business as usual, everything you do is built by jobs that need to be done.

Whether your team is innovating or grinding, taking on projects or tackling business as usual, everything you do is built, one piece at a time, by jobs that need to be done.

“Well, duh,” I can you hear you sighing. But an obvious truth can still be an important truth. And understanding the anatomy of work, the break-down of a project or process, allows a business to recognise areas of strength, areas of weakness, and areas ripe for optimization.

In short, you can only change the shape of work if you understand the shape of work. But then, that’s why you’re here. So, let’s get on with it.


The building blocks of work – why does it matter?

Originally developed as a tool for identifying and enhancing customer experience, the Jobs To Be Done framework, when turned inwardly on an organisation, can be a phenomenal tool for identifying and enhancing productivity and collaborative success.

Understanding the framework of jobs to be done not only allows you to improve your own performance but also to better identify the jobs your product or service is helping your customers and clients to get done, providing insight into how to better serve their needs.

In other words, whether you’re a software developer or a team leader, a customer service agent or a project manager, Jobs To Be Done can be a powerful lens through which to view your and/or your customer’s needs.

Closely linked to the theory of innovative disruption, the Jobs To Be Done methodology is intended to identify the innovations required to meet the needs of the job to be done.


Mapping Jobs To Be Done

This brings us to the job map. Before we get into the steps in the job map, it should be pointed out that not every job uses every step on this job map, but the steps to capture pretty much every aspect of any job, and can be applied universally.

Whether producing a blog article, developing an app, or rolling out an omnichannel marketing campaign, every job or project can be divided into the stages of JTBD. And while one individual’s job can be divided into each of these stages, the job they do might well constitute but one task in one stage of an organisation-wide job to be done.



In the Define stage, you will identify the objective the job is intended to achieve and plan out your strategy for achieving it. Whether applied to a once-off project or an ongoing process, by the end of this stage you should be able to produce a step-by-step checklist of the resources required and a timeline of tasks that must be achieved for the overall job to be considered done.



The Locate stage is about gathering the resources required to execute on the strategy laid out in the Define stage. “Resources” in this context is very broad and could include knowledge, physical assets, or even people. Researching a topic (for a blog article), learning a coding language (for building a new app), or gathering data from market research (for a targeted marketing campaign) could all be considered locating and gathering resources (for the job in question).



The Prepare stage is about setting up the resources and the workspace (virtual or physical) so that everything is in place when the job or project roll-out is started. Preparing also involves re-examining the original strategy, to ensure that nothing has been forgotten, either in that strategy or in your preparation. By the end of this stage, you should be ready to start the job at the drop of a hat.




In the Confirm stage, the project or job’s validity or priority is confirmed to give the project the final go-ahead. While this is not necessary in every job, it has become more important in this fast-moving world in which organizational goalposts might shift unexpectedly and on short notice. The agile needs of rapid iteration and re-iteration can require that a project is paused or scrapped before roll-out and, when margins are thin, you don’t want to waste valuable resources executing on a job whose objectives are no longer valid.



The Execute stage is the culmination of the efforts thus far. Simply said but not so simply done, by the end of this stage the job should have been completed according to plan.



The Monitor stage often happens simultaneously with the Execute stage, and involves tracking the performance of the job and taking note of areas for potential improvement. Even if the job is successfully completed and its objectives achieved, there is almost always room for improvement. This is especially the case in the modern day, as circumstances are likely to rapidly change, with new technology and social developments necessitating changes in how a job is performed.



The Modify stage, as you can probably guess, is about updating, upgrading, or simply maintaining the results of the job or the process involved in completing it. We’ve already mentioned it a few times, but it is a fact that the world is changing fast, quickly making new technologies and approaches to work outdated in the face of innovative fields of competition.

By the end of this stage, you should have implemented changes to solve for the weaknesses and opportunities identifies in the Monitor stage.



The Conclude stage is the point at which a job is finished and the team can step back and admire what they’ve accomplished. Depending on the job, the Conclude stage might be delayed for the entirety of the product’s lifetime, as updates, patches and more can extend the duration of a product’s viability.


What Is A Job? – Two Points Of View

It’s important to remember, when defining your objectives, that you know what the job is that needs to be done.

But that’s not quite as simple and straightforward as it sounds.

Often, a job is only viewed through the lens of its functionality. but many jobs also have emotional and social facets that must be considered if one is to truly have a comprehensive understanding of not only the task to be performed, but also other, peripheral purposes that might redefine your understanding of what your client or colleagues are trying to achieve with a particular product or process.

Drilling down and getting to the core of what the overarching objective is of any particular job, can open up new possibilities about what tasks can or should be performed to achieve that objective.

As a simple example, consider the job of planting a tree. Is planting the tree really the job that needs to be done, or is the job to beautify your garden for the parties you regularly host? In the latter case, planting the tree suddenly becomes an optional task performed to complete the actual job.

By the same token, truly understanding what jobs your customers want to get done gives you insight into and flexibility in effectively developing products and shaping your messaging to your market’s needs.

Extending the above example, a nursery might expand to offer garden furniture, outside lighting, and possibly even a catering service, positioning itself as a comprehensive outside entertainment and landscaping company, specialising in crafting gardens for guests.


Get Jobs Done. Get Papillio

Use the Papillio platform to ideate, strategise and facilitate the smooth and successful execution of both projects and business as usual. Try it for free today on a limited user basis, or book a free demo with us.

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